For more on Star Trek & design, see my Starship & Museum posts, taking off on wondering why the Enterprise looks like the Guggenheim Museum.
LEFT: Mary & Russel Wright's (1904–1976) influential book Guide to Easier Living (links to RW Center), 1950: "our main thesis here is that formality is not necessary for beauty."
What's the point of well designed technologies from phones to dishware?
Margaret suggests it frees us from inconvenience, but points out that "Real Life is the ultimate inconvenience"--one day will we never have to get up off the couch for anything? And so, won't?
Another bit of Star Trek's--and some mid-century designers'--optimism lies in their belief that if technology frees us from petty inconveniences, we will leap off that couch and use our energies for bigger and better things.
I'm not sure if this is an accurate view of human nature or not...
BELOW: Russel Wright's "Residential" line was the first successful Melmac plastic dinnerware. The line won the Museum of Modern Art Good Design Award in 1953: "designed both for usefulness and good looks.” It remained popular for years after.
Is that plate Captain Kirk holds, below, in "The Trouble with Tribbles" a 23rd-century descendent of Residential ware?
In the 1930s and 1940s, Russel Wright also popularized household goods made from spun aluminum, a material that people had been slow to accept for home use.
BELOW: a scene from "Amok Time," and Russel Wright's spun aluminum cheese server.
As always, Star Trek screencaps from TrekCore.com.