Friday, November 13, 2009

The Space Age Designs That Inspired Star Trek — and Corporate America

Architect Eero Saarinen futurist designs highlight industrial innovation and evoke a sense of sleek confidence. It's the reason his buildings housed captains of American industry, and why his designs found their way aboard the original Enterprise.

We mentioned a while back that Scott Chambliss, who designed the set for the most recent Star Trek movie, highlighted cited Eero Saarinen as the influence behind the slick, iPod-white designs we see at Starfleet and aboard the Enterprise. But that wasn't Star Trek's first dance with Saarinen's designs. His iconic Tulip Chair became the basis for the seating seen in the original series, and his sweeping, modernist style is clearly an inspiration for that contoured, ultra-clean future.

At once elegantly organic and evoking a sense of progress, Saarinen's work attracted not just the Star Trek team, but other entities looking to harness that sense of looking forward. General Motors, IBM, John Deere, and CBS all contracted Saarinen to design their corporate headquarters, and his designs became a symbol of an America that firmly believed it was marching toward the future.