This is the face of the Federation?
Call & Repsonse
There have been a lot of comments about ST:D regarding the non-continuity of style with regards to what we’ve already seen in this time period, via TOS and Enterprise. The responses to the complaints almost always say “This is 2017, we can’t make it look just like TOS. It would look silly!”
This entirely misses the point.
When looking at the visuals for ST:D, the viewer doesn’t see “Star Trek”. They see “Battlestar Galactica—with more ass-fitting jumpsuits and gold lamé.”
It’s entirely appropriate to update big clicky buttons with touch screens. It’s entirely appropriate to update static lightboxes with actual computer monitors. And it’s entirely appropriate to to toss out the cardboard box of a captain’s chair and replace it with something more suited to sitting.
Updated Traditional Neo-Classical*
“Keeping the original style” means understanding the themes and overall stylistic benchmarks. One of the simplest is the uniform. JJ Abrahms did a fine job taking the old velour and replicating the aesthetic with modern fabrics and tailoring. Those uniforms say “Star Trek”.
Another major stylistic theme is the lighting. Look at the screen capture from the top of this article. That doesn’t say “Star Trek”. The Klingon trial that sent Kirk to Urupenthe looked like a sunny day in Sweden compared to the image above.
And... the Klingons. I’m certainly not advocating for a return to the “spray-on tan” look, but these outfits look like someone’s little brother melted Barbie’s head in the microwave, then rolled her in toothpicks and glitter to hide the crime. The Klingons from later TV shows and movies work very well. Those prosthetics were significant enough to make them alien, but open enough to allow facial expressions and head movement.
Sleek and ultra-modern... But still blatantly Star Trek
Every designer wants to make things their own, to put their mark on the design they’re creating. That’s fine. But—and I say this as a scenic and lighting designer—there are times when you need to stick within traditional themes.
Star Trek is one of those times.
* This was actually a description for a line of Bill Blass neckties in the mid 90s.