Star Trek: The Next Generation came out In September of 1987, almost 28 years ago. The exterior of the ship was designed by Andrew Probert, and in my mind, still holds up as a futuristic spaceship in today’s crowded spaceship market. However, one aspect that does look antiquated next to modern science fiction is the interiors. TNG shows its age with the 90’s design aesthetics: Pastel colors, minimalist furnishings, artsy furniture, and of course carpeting on the floors, walls-and everywhere. The images below highlight all of those things. Don’t get me wrong, I find the look of the ship soothing, luxurious, and somewhere I would want to visit. It just feels a bit too starchy and uncomfortable to me. And yet, this is where the beloved crew of the Enterprise D carried out their daily lives. I always had fun imagining the gruff Klingon security chief Lieutenant Worf relaxing in his pastel quarters, with a soft purple bed, strange modern sculptures, and subdued mood lighting. At least he had his bat’leth on the wall… and his spherical chair to perch in.
By contrast, the interior designs of spaceships today are a jumbled mess. Exposed wiring, piping, and the frenzied greebling that would make Star Wars ship designers drool with desire. Sci-fi these days either looks distopian, or used and worn to the point of being inoperative. The Alternate timeline Star Trek movies take this route, by making everything look far more used and gritty. And although I absolutely love the set design, I cannot resolve the differences in each of the different departments of the ship. Engineering is a series of non-scifi pipes, and massive exposed tanks, with what appears to be thousands of crew members walking through engineering. The warp core is not a core at all, but a sophisticated, yet antiquated looking (by Star Trek standards) piece of 20th century technology. Only the bridge seems to retain the high-tech look of Star Trek… excepting a few additional lens flares.
Where are the sleek lines? The hidden, almost mystical quality of the Star Trek’s engineering and technology is lost in the new movies. I feel as if I am looking at technology from today’s time, and not hundreds of years in the future.
Which brings me back to the Enterprise D. When starting the construction of the ship, I made a choice to try and preserve that 90’s design and minimalist look to the interior of the ship. I would try to only take minimal liberties with areas that had not been seen on the show. To give an example, I will describe what I was thinking of when creating the main shuttlebay.
On the show, only shuttlebay 2 or 3 is shown, and even then, I believe only a cramped. unrealistic version was built. In reality, the cargo bay, and shuttlebay sets were the same room, only re-dressed a bit for variety. The walls are a matte grey, with black lines to show a paneled look. The floors are a reflective gray, with some neat painted lines reminiscent of the LCARS system. Cargo is randomly stacked up against a wall. There are balconies, with crew looking down into the bay. The words ” Caution: Variable Gravity Area” are emblazoned on the walls. So when constructing the main shuttlebay, what design decisions did I make?
Things I left alone:
- Texture / Colors
- I left the gray paneled look alone. I experimented with a more busy, exposed look to the panels, but it just didn’t feel like trek. In fact most of the ship will probably have to stick to the large solid colored walls, without a lot of greebles and random science-y looking parts.
- Dirt, or lack of
- Star Trek is clean, where Star Wars is not. The crew of the Enterprise takes care of their ship and it shows in the spotless nature of every room. The shuttlebay is no exception, and adding grime and weathering just wouldn’t look right. This may change in the future, however, as it might be nice to weather the ship a bit, and add just a bit more detailing. Time will tell.
Things I decided to change:
- Texture / Color changes
- I felt that the floor could look a bit more interesting. I decided to create a hexagonal, porus looking grating system throughout the whole shuttlebay, and the adjacent cargo bays on deck 4. The color was also shifted down to a darker grey, to add more contrast to the lines. The hallway to shuttlebay doors were shifted from grey to orange to add a bit of nice color to a severely grey environment.
- The space available-
- The blueprints show a massive hanger deck, and this had to be shown for the shuttlebay. When I finished the intial layout, it was clear that I could fit around 50 shuttlecraft in their respective bays with all of the space I had. I also could fit in a runabout or 2. The question of whether or not a runabout would fit in the main shuttlebay always bothered me after the season 6 episode, “Timescape.”
- Tractor emitters-
- The show had a tractor emitter placed in the back of one of the shuttlebays that was used to move a ship into position within the bay. I positioned dozens of these throughout the main shuttlebay as a means of being able to automatically move a shuttle around corners and into its own bay without having to power it up.
- Diagnostic bays
- I figured that engineers and shuttle crews would need a nice place to work on damaged or broken shuttlecraft, so I built some side areas on either side of the control tower for repairs to happen. These areas are near part repositories, to speed up repairs.
You can see the results below. I will probably apply these same principles to shuttlebay 2 and 3.
Thank you for reading!