Star Trek’s Design Influences.
Matt Jefferies, designer of the original Starship Enterprise, was less than complimentary when he saw its 24th-century incarnation in Star Trek: The Next Generation: “Gene asked me how I liked the show, and I said that he had taken the bridge of my ship and turned it into the lobby of the Hilton.” But throughout its 50-year history, Star Trek’s aesthetic has always moved with the times, assimilating current fashion trends and adapting basic designs to accommodate new ideas and new technologies.
In this episode of Primitive Culture, host Duncan Barrett is joined by Trek.fm Art Director Aaron Harvey, who also hosts our Star Trek: The Animated Series show Saturday Morning Trek, to talk about the design influences that have shaped the look of Star Trek over the course of half a century—from the sleek, contoured stylings of Kirk’s original Enterprise to the rough-and-ready look of the USS Discovery.
Matt Jefferies’s Aeronautical Influences (00:02:45)
Color in TOS (00:17:02)
The Motion Picture’s Sense of Scale (00:23:03)
Nick Meyer’s Gritty Rebranding (00:28:46)
Fan Designers and the USS Discovery (00:36:04)
The Enterprise-D (00:45:45)
Voyager’s Open-Plan Office (00:53:06)
Okudagrams and LCARS (00:54:54)
Deep Space Nine’s Alien Aesthetic (00:59:20)
Designing for Prequels (01:05:15)
Final Thoughts (01:15:04)
Tony Black (Editor) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Amy Nelson (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)
Shrinking Sci-Fi and DS9’s “One Little Ship.” We look at some examples of shrinking in Star Trek, comparing the franchise’s tiny people to those in science fiction cinema, such as The Incredible Shrinking Man and Fantastic Voyage.
Federation Politics in Star Trek. We’re joined by Keith DeCandido, author of Articles of the Federation, for a look at Star Trek’s political structures, the Federation Council, and its three on-screen presidents.
Star Trek and Fan Fiction. We consider Star Trek's role in the cultural phenomenon of fanfic, charting its development from the 'slash' stories of the 1970s through to the vast online archives of the twenty-first century.
Anne Frank and Counterpoint. We look at the influence of The Diary of Anne Frank on Star Trek’s screenwriters, considering how science fiction handles fascist and authoritarian regimes and the role played by ordinary people in resisting oppression.
Michael Piller, Joseph Conrad, and Star Trek: Insurrection. We look at some of the inspirations behind the script of the third TNG film, including Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness and discuss Piller’s book Fade In.
The British Isles in Star Trek. We discuss the portrayal of our homelands over a few synthales at the Grosvenor Hotel in London, and examine real-world independence movements and the effects of transporters on national identity.
Cinematic Influences on Star Trek: First Contact. We discuss the influence of Ridley Scott, Steven Spielberg, and James Cameron on Jonathan Frakes and how their films inspired his big-screen directorial debut.
Gay Representation in Star Trek. We look at the franchise's fraught engagement with LGBT issues, from The Next Generation to Discovery.
Star Trek's Impossible Choices. We consider the influence of Sophie's Choice on Star Trek's storytelling and the dilemmas Starfleet captains are forced to face that the rest of us might consider impossible.
Voyager, History, and Nostalgia. We explore the show’s obsession with the past, debates around historical truth, the pleasures of nostalgia, and whether the homeward mission was inherently retrogressive.