When TrekMovie.com asked designer Scott Chambliss what influences he and director J.J. Abrams lifted from for the new Star Trek, he listed only one name: Finnish-American designer Eero Saarinen. And it's easy to see why: Saarinen's creations define space awesomeness.
TrekMovie interviewed Chambliss the other day, and he explained how Saarinen's ground-breaking designs wound up inspiring the look of every structure in Star Trek:
TrekMovie: Would you say doing the Enterprise inside and out was the most challenging and intimidating…
Scott Chambliss: [cutting off] Yes! Yes! And again, yes! [laughs] The outside actually came along pretty early in the game, because the whole idea that JJ embraced thoroughly was about using the Eero Saarinen approach–he was the futurist architect from the late 50s and 60s who designed the TWA terminal at JFK airport. I originally presented the concept of using him for inspiration simply for Starfleet Earth home base, the assembly hall, but he was so turned on by that, JJ suggested applying the concept to everything Starfleet. So that is when I really started playing with the exterior of the ship. But the interior, the bridge, all that iconic stuff, that was much more laborious.
Saarinen helped define the postwar image of the United States with his sweeping, rule-breaking buildings, which sought to expand modernism beyond its "measly ABC." Although he changed his style with every single job, you can see influences of both modernism and "Googie" space-age curves in a lot of his designs.
Just check out some of Saarinen's beautiful, ambitious creations, including the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the M.I.T. Chapel and of course that TWA Terminal.... which even looks a bit like a Klingon battle-cruiser seen from above. You start to wonder how much influence Saarinen may have had on the original Trek, back in the late 1960s.
Top image of M.I.T. Chapel, from atelier/Ed Brodzinsky on Flickr.