Memory Alpha
Memory Alpha
Real world article
(written from a Production point of view)

Herman Zimmerman (born 19 April 1935; age 89) was an art director and production designer who worked between 1987 and 2005 for the Star Trek franchise. Excepting Star Trek: Voyager, he has in that era worked on all other live-action productions set in the prime universe, the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the entire runs of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Enterprise, as well as six Star Trek films. Together with Rick Sternbach he designed the space station Deep Space 9, with John Eaves the USS Enterprise-B and the USS Enterprise-E. His most recognizable work though, have been his (co-)designs for nearly all of the standing sets, those of the bridge, Main Engineering (co-designed with Andrew Probert) and Ten Forward for the USS Enterprise-D in particular. As head of the Art Department, Zimmerman oversaw his own team of set designers, prop masters, set decorators and production illustrators, whereas Michael Okuda's separate Scenic Art Department was subordinated and answerable to his. Zimmerman's role on the modern prime universe Star Trek productions, was equivalent to that of his illustrious predecessor Matt Jefferies for Star Trek: The Original Series.

His tenure on the eighteen year run of the modern Star Trek franchise set in the prime universe was interrupted twice. The first time occurred at the conclusion of the first season of the Next Generation when William Shatner asked him to become the production designer on Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Shatner had been so impressed with his work on The Next Generation as such, that he hired Zimmerman to upgrade the USS Enterprise-A interiors for the film. Therefore, the upgraded bridge from the movie, for example, resembled the bright atmosphere portrayed in The Next Generation. Decades later Zimmerman later jokingly commented after seeing the film, considered so flawed by so many, "After the show was over, I was pretty sure I would never do another!" (The Art of Star Trek, p. 249; Star Trek: 45 Years of Designing the Future) For the Next Generation Zimmerman asked colleague Richard James to step in. "I asked Richard James to sub for me and he was so good at subbing for me that I just walked away from it. I did a number of other things and then came back to do DS9 and Enterprise and another five motion pictures. So that whole experience with TNG was just kind of a kick-start to my involvement with Star Trek in a real and personal way.", Zimmerman elaborated. [1] Nevertheless, it was during this first, 1989-1992, hiatus that Zimmerman also worked on Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

The second hiatus from the franchise occurred in the period 1999-2001, after Deep Space Nine concluded and before Enterprise went into production, and no position was available to him on the only Star Trek live-action show in production at that time, Star Trek: Voyager, simply "because it wasn't offered to me." [2] Voyager's Art Department was by that time already headed by Richard James. His work on Star Trek earned him four Emmy Award nominations in the category Outstanding Art Direction for a Series, coincidently all for Deep Space Nine episodes. But his work on that series did win him the 1997 ADG Excellence in Production Design Award.

Zimmerman is the father of Deep Space Nine and Enterprise set designer Fritz Zimmerman III. Starting with the 1993 Star Trek Earth Tour and setting the template for these, Zimmerman conceptualized the look and oversaw the design of Star Trek-themed attractions, intended to immerse visitors in the Star Trek universe and which included the 1995 Star Trek: The Exhibition, as well as the 1998 Star Trek World Tour and Star Trek: The Experience in Las Vegas as part of the Special Entertainment Events crew. He has been interviewed for several Star Trek documentaries and home media special features, wrote an introduction for the 1995 reference book The Art of Star Trek, and co-authored the 1998 reference book Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual.

During the run of Star Trek, Zimmerman was often referenced on screen, including

Zimmerman was a huge admirer of his predecessor, Original Series Art Director Matt Jefferies, and it was through Zimmerman's efforts that much of his influences were observed in modern prime-universe Star Trek live-action productions, which included the elevation into canon of the designation "Jefferies tube" (even though he had to leave the actual canonization to his successor James). Star Trek archivist commented about Zimmerman, "He has always idolized Matt and his work. And he has always tried to incorporate Matt's work and designs and to make sure that the theme is carried on into the new TV series and all of the features." ("Designing the Final Frontier", TOS Season 2 DVD special features)

On 27 September 2009, Herman Zimmerman, together with fellow designers John Jefferies, Joe Jennings and Scott Chambliss, were honored for their Star Trek contributions in a media event called the "Star Trek Designers Talk Trek History At Art Directors Guild Event" at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, and in which all designers discussed in-depth their work on the franchise. The event was moderated by another Star Trek alumnus, Daren Dochterman, with Zimmerman's set designer son, Fritz Zimmerman, in attendance. [3] Three years later, in 2012, Herman Zimmerman was again honored by the Art Directors Guild, when they awarded him the Lifetime Achievement Award. [4] Due to illness, the award was accepted on his behalf by former Star Trek colleagues Mike Okuda and Doug Drexler on 2 February 2013. [5]

Career outside Star Trek[]

Herman Zimmerman studied acting and directing at the Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois but changed his major to Theatre Production. He worked as associate professor of drama, technical director, and scene designer at the Northwestern University prior to his move to Los Angeles. In 1965 he started to work as assistant art director for the daily soap Days of Our Lives, followed by occupations as set decorator on the talk show Della in 1969.

Between 1971 and 1989 he worked as art director on the television series Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (1973-1975), The Lost Saucer (1975), Far Out Space Nuts (1975-1977), Land of the Lost (1974-1976), Tales of the Unexpected (1977), The New Odd Couple (1982-1983), Cheers (1984-1986, starring Kirstie Alley), and Brothers (1984-1986, starring Hallie Todd). Feature film credits include The Resurrection of Zachary Wheeler (1971), The Girl Called Hatter Fox (1977, starring Ronny Cox), Deadman's Curve (1978, with Bruce Davison), Deathmoon (1978, starring Robert Foxworth), A Rumor of War (1980), the drama Twirl (1981), Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1983), the thriller Through Naked Eyes (1983, with David Soul), Silence of the Heart (1984, with Mariette Hartley), and Black Rain (1989).

Prior to his involvement with Star Trek, Zimmerman worked as production designer on The Burning Bed (1984), Better Off Dead (1985, with David Ogden Stiers and Kim Darby), One Crazy Summer (1986), and the comedy series The Ellen Burstyn Show (1986-1987). During his time on Star Trek he also worked on All I Want for Christmas (1991) and Legend (1995, with John de Lancie). Upon the conclusion of Enterprise in 2005, Zimmerman went into retirement. [6]

Star Trek credits[]

(This list is currently incomplete.)

Star Trek awards[]

Herman Zimmerman received the following award and nominations for his work on Star Trek:

Emmy Award Nominations[]

Herman Zimmerman received the following Emmy Award nominations as "Production Designer", all in the category Outstanding (Individual Achievement in) Art Direction for a Series

ADG Excellence in Production Design Awards[]

Herman Zimmerman received the following ADG Award as "Production Designer" in the category Television

Herman Zimmerman received the following ADG Award as "Production Designer" in the category Lifetime Achievement


Star Trek interviews[]

(This list is currently incomplete.)

Further reading[]

External links[]