Warp speed in your living room?

Always wished you could take the helm of a futuristic spacecraft, seeking out new life and new civilisations – and all from the comfort of a West Midlands apartment? One British designer has gone further than wishing; he’s living the dream.

It’s long been recognised that die-hard Star Trek fans are among the most (delete as appropriate) devoted | obsessed | just plain weird that the film industry has ever engendered; aficionados often dress in 24th century attire, can learn and correspond or converse in the languages of the various alien races, and even be joined in Klingon wedlock in a ceremony complete with mock betleH combat (that’s a sort of metre-long mezzaluna with a bad attitude, for the uninitiated).

One fan (and rarely does the term’s etymological root, fanatic, seem more pertinent), though, has boldly taken his devotion beyond the convention hall and converted his one-bedroom flat into a fully-featured replica of the interior of a Federation spacecraft.

Tony Alleyne, an interior designer living in Hinckley in Leicestershire, has exercised his trade on his own apartment in a quest to create a totally immersive Star Trek environment – in his own words, he didn’t want just a Trek ‘theme’ but for visitors to feel they “were not in the 21st century”. To this end, he has faithfully reproduced a variety of features culled from the cult show’s various sets, designing and building each from scratch.

Starting with style and fittings modelled on the Starship Enterprise, Tony has continued to develop and update his décor and the flat now takes its inspiration from one of the several Trek spin-offs, Voyager. Features include voice-activated lighting, command and operations consoles, LCARS terminals (Library Computer Access and Retrieval System – I know, obvious when you think about it) and, according to at least one reviewer, a “fully functional transporter room” (does NASA know about this?). Even areas not often depicted in the series, such as the kitchen and bathroom, have been made over in 24th century style.

Tony isn’t alone in his efforts; German fan Robby Amper, for example, has created a replica Enterprise bridge in his Munich apartment, to be used in the making of fan films.

The attention to detail and insistence on the quality of the finish, though, sets the British designer apart. More than just a tribute to his beloved series, Tony views his creation as an attempt to challenge and possibly overturn some of the established principles of interior design.

He’s chosen a good subject; Star Trek from its earliest days has been noted for the efforts above and beyond the call of duty by its creator, Gene Roddenbury, and his creative staff to make their future world as plausible as possible by extrapolating today’s social, cultural and technological trends into the future.

Sadly (and not a little ironically, given Star Trek’s efforts to depict an ‘unmonied’ society), it’s been revealed that Tony’s obsession has cost him more than a few strange looks and some gentle ribbing down the pub; the intrepid designer, we learn, is bankrupt.

Determined to turn his devotion to the series and its distinctive styling into a paying proposition, Tony hoped that the example of his 24th century des’ res. would inspire other fans to hire him to perform similar conversions.

Despite taking out credit to the tune of £100,000 (on top of the £12,000 cost of the actual conversion) to market the service, however, there have been no takers. Tony blames marketing and merchandising advisors in both the UK and US for encouraging him to invest too heavily in a high-risk proposition. Even attempts to sell the apartment on have been unsuccessful; an eBay auction in 2004 offered the property for $1m but, possibly because of its location, was unsuccessful.

Obsessed fan or design visionary? A bit of both, in all likelihood. But at least Tony Alleyne has the satisfaction of coming home each night to his own little slice of the 24th century – and how many of us can claim that?

Doug Brett-Matthewson


10th February 2006

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