One of my all time favorite movies is Alien
, and the Commercial Towing Vessel Nostromo
one of my all time favorite spacecraft. The interior style of the Nostromo
is often referred to as "Used Future," a working man's world where function dictates form, and aesthetics take a back seat to efficiency. The Millenium Falcon
and the Dark Star
as the vanguard of the Used Future style, and Outland
did an excellent job of translating it to an entire colony, but it is the latter two examples that have gained such an enduring hold on my imagination. You actually believed this was a working spacecraft/mining colony, with a real job to do, with all of the attendant compromises between its visual appeal and its need to be functional. As a kid I had only the vaguest sense of the realism, the verite
being offered me in this sort of depiction. As an adult, I spent years on a nuclear powered submarine - the epitome of the function dictates form ethic, and came to appreciate many of the hidden whys
behind the way things were through practical experience living and working in those confined, utilitarian spaces.
My one attempt to design a spaceship interior was more the antithesis of the Used Future. Indeed, one commenter pointed out that it looked like a "Space Travelodge," and not without merit.
I think this is another deeply held meme within the community that has been created and reinforced by successful mainstream sci-fi. Set design has needs all their own that often contradict the ethic of the spacecraft they are depicting. Realistic working sets require levels of detail that equate to greater expense, and a television show doesn't have the set budgets a big movie will enjoy. Sometimes a show's theme demands aesthetics over efficiency. Roddenberry wanted the Enterprise-D
to be big, spacious, even plush for ST:TNG. He wanted the "Space Travelodge" look because his vision was a giant explorer filled with families for a ten year mission, and if this was the case, diamond deck and exposed piping wasn't going to cut it. Looking back I can see where I was subconsciously influenced by that aesthetic in the Bonaventure
habitat interiors I did. (Mostly the beige. What was I thinking?) Looking at other peoples' works, I can see that I am not alone. Vast passageways where six people could walk abreast (some of the places I had to go on the sub, when you passed by another man, you could tell if he was circumcised...), luxurious rooms, smooth and organic lines, tastefully rendered lighting all dominate in these works.
I wonder sometimes if I can actually find my own Used Future.