Star Trek’s Enterprise is an absolute triumph of design. It is original without being off-putting, classic without feeling dated, and had the feel, even at its inception, of being both strange and familiar.
From ForgottenTrek, quoting original series art director Matt Jeffries:
[Gene Roddenberry’s] only guidelines was a firm list of what he did not want to see — not any rockets, nor jets nor firestreams. The starship was not to look like a vintage science fiction rocket ship but neither could it resemble anything that would too quickly date the design. Gene described the 100-150 man crew, outer space, fantastic, unheard of speed and that we didn’t have to worry about gravity. He had emphasized that there were to be no fins, no wings, no smoke trails, no flames, no rocket.
More from ForgottenTrek
I gathered that this ship had to have powerful engines — extremely powerful. To me, that meant that they had to be designed away from the body…. For the hull, I didn’t really want a saucer because of the term flying saucer and the best pressure vessel of course is a ball, so I started playing with that. But the bulk got in the way and the ball just didn’t work. I flattened it out and I guess we wound up with a saucer! I did it in color on a black matt board, and by the time I finished I thought we really had something.