Walter Matthew "Matt" Jefferies (August 12, 1921 - July 21, 2003) was an American aviation and mechanical artist, set designer, and writer, best known for designing the original Starship Enterprise for the Star Trek television series.
Jefferies' father was chief engineer at a power plant in Virginia. He had a younger brother named John who worked with him as his chief draftsman. He served in Europe in World War II, was inside of B-17, B-24, B-25 bombers and had four years as a flight test engineer. He was a member of the Aviation Space Writers' Association and one of the original members of the American Aviation Historical Society. Jefferies restored and flew period airplanes as a hobby. He owned a Waco YOC aircraft and stored it at an airfield in California for many years. His Waco, NC17740, c/n 4279, built 1935, is now owned by the Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society and is displayed at the Virginia Aviation Museum, Richmond, Virginia.
Besides creating interiors and exterior of the Enterprise, Jefferies was responsible for designing props (including phasers), sets, the Klingon logo and D-7 battle cruiser. Years later, his concept sketches were revisited and used to design the starship Enterprise, the Olympic class U.S.S. Pasteur, the Daedalus-class and pre-Federation Vulcan ships.
Contrary to popular belief, Jefferies did not create Star Trek's original shuttlecraft design: although Jefferies submitted his own concept, it was too complex to build with the show's shoestring budget. Gene Winfield's much simpler design was used instead, and Jefferies designed only its interior.
Jefferies had a very pragmatic design ethic: reasoning that a starship's engines would be extremely powerful and potentially dangerous, he positioned them far away from the ship, with the added benefit of modular design so that they could be ejected quickly in an emergency. Figuring that whatever could go wrong would, he put all of the ship's workings on the interior for easy access, eliminating the need for spacewalking in case of exterior repairs. The bridge panels were given an ergonomic design for comfort and ease of use. He was opposed to the idea of PADDs, as well as the goose-neck viewers that appeared in the first pilot. Moreover, he disliked the idea of a large engine room because by his reckoning the entire ship could be run by a single panel on the bridge. Later, Jefferies' work on the bridge of the Enterprise influenced the design of the U.S. Navy master communications center at NAS San Diego.
When Jefferies saw Star Trek: The Motion Picture he fell asleep. He never watched subsequent incarnations of Star Trek, remarking that they had turned his Navy-esque bridge into "the lobby of the Hilton."
Within the Star Trek universe, Jefferies tubes and Captain Jefferies are named in his honor. According to Jefferies, the Enterprise was Starfleet's 17th starship design and it was the first in the series, therefore the ship had the number '1701.' This story is documented in one of his sketches.
Filmography (as art designer)
- Bombers B-52 (1957)
- The Old Man and the Sea (1958)
- Wreck of the Mary Deare (1959)
- The Untouchables (1959)
- Never So Few (1959)
- Ben Casey (1961)
- Mission: Impossible (1966)
- Star Trek: The Original Series (Set Designer; later Art Director) (1966–1969)
- Love, American Style (1969)
- Weekend of Terror (1970)
- Escape (1971)
- Little House on the Prairie (1974)
- The Loneliest Runner (1976)
- Star Trek: Phase II (1977; never aired)
- Dallas (1978)
- Killing Stone (1978)
- "FSD: Starship Concept Art - Designing the Galileo Shuttlecraft". Starshipdatalink.net. Retrieved 2009-10-03.
- "BBC Online - Cult - Star Trek - Matt Jefferies - A Hilton in space". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-10-03.
- Jefferies signed sketch: "17th CRUISER DESIGN, SERIAL No1 - 1701"
- Jefferies, Richard L (15 February 2008). Beyond the Clouds: The Lifetime Trek of Walter "Matt" Jefferies, Artist and Visionary. Brown Books. pp. 328 pages. ISBN 978-1-933285-98-6.
- Walter M. Jefferies at the Internet Movie Database
- Walter "Matt" Jefferies - The official website
- BBC video interview
- Matt Jefferies at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- Starship Concept Art
- Designing the First Enterprise