Yes, aesthetics is important but it's also entirely subjective. However, subjective or not, I do not see how flattening ships down to the size of a pancake appeals to anyone's 'romantic sense of exploration'. Surely the opposite would apply in which spaceships looked more like old seafaring tall ships with huge masts (pylons) and sails (warp engines)?
Aesthetics being subjective is not the point. Though it makes me chuckle imagining the Vulcans, with their furrowed brows, being highly critical and irratated of the emotional elements of the earthmen's starship designs.
The point is simply and solely whether consideration and incorporation of aesthetics would be valid with respect to the design of a starship. Answer is, as with any humon endeavor, yes (ergonomics, of course, being another consideration, etc. ...).
The form, or lineage of thought, regarding how all that would manifest itself is moot as the contextual reality within "Star Trek" is what it is. They settled on what they settled on. Times change. Fashion sense changes.