STUDIO 1999 – Home page – a workspace inspired by the television series, Space 1999
Many years have passed since the first episode of Space 1999 was aired on the RAI television channel.
It was the 1970’s and I was in elementary school.
It was “love at first sight”...
The idea of the show was original and different from anything else I had seen.
The characters were well developed; they each had their own traits, their own ways of behaving with each other and their own manners of dealing with the dangers that inevitably came their way, episode after episode.
The scenography was neat and clean; the central color was white, flat surfaces alternated with curved lines, everything was diffused by the soft light of Moonbase Alpha. Spaces were cold and yet welcoming at the same time, minimalist and yet functional.
The spaceships - the Eagles - were the real myths, and even today reveal an incredible level of modernity and forward-looking style; in many ways, they are the space shuttles of NASA.
The furnishings have become collectibles and are unique examples of Italian design from those years, created by architects and designers of international renown.
I was about eight years old when I first saw the show and was literally dumbfounded by it. I would talk about it constantly and try and get my friends to reenact the fantastic scenes that we had all seen on TV the day before. I imagined that the area under the stairwell at school was the cockpit of the transport Eagle. I’d drag over some chairs - the little ones they use in elementary schools - and line them up in pairs under the slanted ceiling.
You could call me an incurable nostalgic or an eternal child, I don’t know which and either way it doesn’t really matter. What I do know is that I am a professional graphic artist and freelance designer. I also know that I am a fan of science fiction and that I have been let down by the fact that the radiant future has not turned out the way it was described (at least in terms of design and technological innovation).
I know, too, that I have found consolation by creating a workspace for myself that is loosely based on Space 1999.
This episode is called “If the future never arrives, I’ll make it myself.”
In 2006, I started the research for a project that would lead to the creation of my own personal Moonbase Alpha office space.
And that’s how STUDIO 1999 was born.
“2001: Space Odyssey,” 1968, directed by Stanley Kubrick. This film, inspired by Arthur C. Clarke’s “The Path,” was a milestone for the genre, and decidedly innovative in every possible manner. It was, for example, the first science fiction film that “dared” to propose space scenes in total silence (something that we have rarely seen in the genre even in this day and age - with exception of a short sequence in the 2009 Star Trek by J.J. Abrams in which a young Kirk and Sulu throw themselves into space, and are met with total and utter silence).
“Space 1999” was created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. Even though it had a limited budget compared to a colossal production like Kubrick’s, it also contributed significantly to the destiny of the science fiction film genre. In fact, many of the people who worked on the series went on to collaborate on some of the major sci-fi films.
For example, Brian Johnson, who was in charge of special effects for the Anderson TV series, eventually worked with George Lucas on “Star Wars” doing the visual effects, and later with Ridley Scott on “Alien.”
My school friends, who at times had no other choice but to participate in my games, and I, became the heroes of adventuresome missions into deepest space. We’d imitate the sounds of the reactors at take off and then wave our arms around as we were diving and dipping through space. All my imagined stories started off in the same way - either with the discovery of some kind of disaster or the arrival of dangerous aliens.
For obvious reasons, girls were often missing from these games, so I had to manage without my Dr. Russell or Sandra or the multiform Maya, but even without them my morning breaks at school were such moments of joy that I remember them with pleasure to this day.
I carry those memories deep within. I have also continued to read and watch science fiction. I would say that I’m just a fan, but it’s more than that; the effect that Space 1999 had on me was decidedly unique. It was indelible.
Here I am almost forty years old and I’m still dreaming. I’m more passionate about the show than ever, and especially of the design elements that appear in it. But, because I’m also a professional I am obliged to ask myself some difficult questions.
What ever happened to that future? It was so well thought out by its “experts” – the writers, scenographers, and above all set designers and costume designers. It was so valuable to the 60’s and 70’s.
It was supposed to be our present day. Where did it go?
I am referring here to the sci-fi stories that imagined a future that was situated in a precise time, with a specific date, in a definite location. I am thinking about the sci-fi that represented the apex of futuristic design and technological innovations. I am also thinking about those films that, in my opinion, helped delineate a clear trajectory between science fiction that was heavy on the fiction end to one that was more science-based (I hope scientists will excuse me for this).
Between the end of the 60’s and the beginning of the 70’s we started to see representations of the future that were the result of technical and stylistic research. The results that were sometimes bold attempts and often totally wrong, but more often than not they were “thought out” with the intention of taking the spectator into a dimension of a “more plausible future.” Let’s not forget the huge influence of history; in 1969 “we” landed on the moon (or at least that’s what they told us) thanks to Mission Apollo and even before that there was Mission Gemini, both of which were conducted by NASA. These events obviously inspired a lot of the sci-fi of the time. And then there was plastic: envisioning the future had a huge effect on the work of designers (today considered works of art) who were experimenting with this new substance and the incredible forms that they could obtain with it.
All labels belong to their rightful owners - Studio 1999 - a project created by Stefano Saldarelli, September 13, 2009 - Prato, Italy