Friday, October 7, 2011

R.I.P. Playboy Club

One of the most stylish shows of the fall season fell victim to low numbers and a certain special interest group after three episodes this past week.

Sadly, many of you never got to see the incredible sets of NBC's The Playboy Club (replicated to a bunny's ear on location in Chicago) and the sixties modern apartment interiors designed by production designer Scott Murphy, art director Gary Baugh and set decorators Beauchamp Fontaine and Tricia Schneider. I was working with one of the shelter publications on a set design story (which will not come to pass) and happy to share this incredible work with you.

Murphy used to work for architects Frank Gehry and Richard Meier prior to his career as a production designer and it shows -- his work on The Sopranos earned him three Emmy nominations for art direction. The Playboy Club featured two story sets complete with cocktail lounges, dance floor, pool tables, restaurant and of course, the trademark bunny logo. I feel certain this show would have garnered him a fourth nomination.

While the sets certainly have the sixties vibe, many of these interiors work today. If you want to create your own retro interiors, look for the usual suspects -- designs by Eero Saarinen, Knoll and Herman Miller along with Tulip and Eames chairs -- real or knock off. And of course a place to mix the requisite cocktail.

Enjoy the time travel and R.I.P. Playboy Club.

Modified sunken living room was the epitome of chic
and no room at that time was complete without the requisite bar

Alternate view. Note the oversize table lamp
and ceiling fixture that gives a nod
to Achille Castiglioni's Arco Lamp

Shades of olive and creme for the walls and low-level tufted modular furniture

Chrome and glass for the dining room
with color block venetian dividers

Nothing says sixties like Avocado Green appliances

This kitchen design scheme works for today as well

Love the faux wood screen behind the bed and corner tufted box style upholstered chair
Speaking of the sixties (and for those of you who love Mad Men), be sure to catch my article in Array Magazine on the show's star Bryan Batt who played art director Salvatore Romano. Batt is a true Renaissance man - actor, author, shop owner and designer. His new book big easy Style: Creating Rooms You Love to Live In (Clarkson Potter) hits the bookstores this month. Below are a few of the enticing rooms featured in the book.

Photo Credits: NBC, Array, Clarkson Potter


  1. I was really enjoying this show. Some of the acting was a tad weak, but some was excellent too. Amber Heard and Jane Fonda's son Troy Garity were very good and getting better.
    I was stylish and fun. The prudes and it's competition did it in. It should have bee on cable, maybe someone will pick it up. It seems there were seven episodes already shot.

  2. I was hoping cable would pick it up. It's a shame as so much incredible work went into the designing of the sets too. Maybe it should have been on Bravo or a lead in to Mad Men on AMC!

  3. Sadly, I did not catch this show. Without your blog I would have completely missed these fantastic sets. I have a friend that still has a sunken living room, not quite so edgy, but still a nod to that era. Thanks for this one.

  4. Mar,

    You are so welcome and thanks for reading!

  5. I thought the show lacked a real soul. However, the sets were amazing. They will probably air the series overseas and do a DVD release to try to get their money back on it.

  6. It's all in the writing. Course most of the shows I watch for the sets anyway!

  7. I really liked the show-and, like "Mad Men" you can't watch it with a contemporary eye, or you'll not be transported back to that era. They quit it too soon; the sets were stellar.