Set Decorator Mees Recalls Time On Star TrekBy Michelle
October 19, 2005 - 6:45 PM
Star Trek set decorator Jim Mees, who went from The Lawrence Welk Show and The Jeffersons to The Next Generation, where he won an Emmy Award along with the rest of the art department, talked about creating alien worlds and his favourite episodes.
In a two-part video interview at StarTrek.com, Mees explained his job: "I always try to put it in very simple terms for everyone," he said. "I am a decorator. I basically ice the cake that the art director and the production designer, if you were thinking about it in sort of baker's terms...they bake the cake, they make the recipe for the cake, we sit down as a group and make decisions about color." Star Trek, he added, "is different because unlike many or most TV shows where there are draperies, there are wall coverings...so much of my set decorating involves designing consoles and console seating, and torture chairs and torture beds. We do a lot of torture work!"
Mees and the team won a 1990 Emmy award for Outstanding Art Direction for The Next Generation's "Sins of the Father" and was nominated along with the rest five other times. He also worked for five seasons on Star Trek: Voyager and is now working on Brannon Braga's Threshold. His favourite aspect of working on Star Trek was that he never had "more than a day or two of unproductive time. Everything is a continual new creation...the hardest part is that my mind never gets to rest very long." The most enjoyable part, he added, was that "nothing is ever the same."
The decorator said that some of his favourite episodes to work on were the ones with Sherlock Holmes on the Enterprise-D's holodeck. "They were really fun, really peculiar...it was always a departure. And one of my most favorite sets was when we did the sequence with Freud. We tried to take the photographs of Freud's real office in Vienna and duplicate it."
The whole art department worked together to create the look of alien cultures, from their furniture and architecture to their furnishings and decorations. For instance, Mees said, the Ferengi have "kind of an obnoxious color scheme" in shades of "acidic yellow, tan brown and green."
The interview with Mees, which includes footage and photos from several episodes of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager, is available at StarTrek.com.