Over the past few years, 3D printing has been explored quite extensively within the fashion industry, most notably by Dutch designer Iris van Herpen. However, Nervous System, a design studio based in Boston, Massachusetts, has taken this medium to the next level with their Kinematics Dress.
The dress’s floral geometric pattern is extremely eye-catching, but only when it is worn can you really appreciate what sets it apart.
Composed of thousands of unique interlocking components, the Kinematics Dress is articulated and flows with every body movement. Even more extraordinary is the fact that the intricately-printed components were not painstakingly assembled – the dress was 3D printed in one single piece.
The black dress featured here has 2,279 unique triangular elements interconnected by 3,316 hinges – all custom-fitted for the model. Unlike traditional fabric, the texture is not uniform. Every segment varies in rigidity, drape, flex and pattern to create a completely free-flowing body map.
Nervous System created the dress using Kinematics 4D printing, a process they have developed in-house which integrates design, simulation, and digital fabrication. Aside from printing complex, foldable forms, the system allows for the creation of customisable products.
And this is the direction in which the rapidly-evolving market for ‘print on demand’ consumer goods is heading. Why buy a standard sized article of clothing when you can have it custom made to fit like a glove? This ‘New Bespoke’ is a logical way forward for 3D printed fashion items, especially shoes and accessories.
Nervous System’s Kinematics Cloth software uses body scans to generate clothing that takes every contour into account. Each item can then be customised from fit and style, to flexibility and pattern.
The garments created with Kinematics Cloth are actually too large to fit into a 3D printer, so Nervous System has developed Kinematics Fold ‘smart folding’ software to compress the garments by 85%. I won’t try to explain the science behind this, but it is indeed very clever and Nervous System’s work is ground-breaking in this field.
The brains behind Nervous System are founders Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg, who together combine education and experience in the fields of Architecture, Biology, Design Automation, Building Modelling and Mathematics. And for Nervous System, this is the perfect Post-Modern blend for exploring 3D technologies and taking them into new territory.
Although Nervous System takes a high tech approach to design, the organic nature of the process also makes for a very appealing aesthetic.
Drawing inspiration from natural phenomena, Nervous System write computer programs that mimic the processes and patterns found in nature. So, albeit on an intuitive level, many of us will find these fractal forms pleasing to the eye.
Nervous System’s unique blend of art, design and technology has not gone unnoticed, and the Museum of Modern Art has recently acquired the Kinematics Dress along with the software that created it for their permanent collection. The dress is currently on show in the MOMA exhibition This Is for Everyone: Design Experiments for the Common Good which runs until January 2016.
(Nervous System) has been instrumental in showing the world the potential of 3D printing with their beautiful designs, and in helping us push the limits of our production capabilities and design guidelines. Shapeways
Since 2009, Nervous System has been pushing the boundaries of 3D printing with the help of Shapeways, a market-leading 3D print company that was founded in The Netherlands and is now headquartered in New York. Nervous System worked closely with Shapeways’ 3D printing engineers to plan the fabrication of the Kinematics Dress and check for printability before it went into production.
From a design perspective, the Kinematics Dress did not appear overnight. The concept initially took shape as a Kinematics Jewellery range – which is still in production today. Each item in this collection is a complex assemblage of hinged, triangular parts that conform to the wearer’s body.
This was followed by the Kinematics Bodice, the first piece of Kinematics clothing to be produced. The design and development of the Kinematics Bodice would pave the way for the Kinematics Dress. The bodice is composed of 1,320 unique hinged pieces, and like the Kinematics Dress, was 3D-printed in a single folded piece.
More recently, Nervous System has teamed up with Cooksongold to develop Kinematics jewellery samples in 18ct gold. Using a direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) technique, Nervous System has printed a one-piece articulated jewellery swatch.
This effectively takes jewellery-making another step forward, as 3D printing of precious metals is still in the early stages of development, and until recently has only been used to create the mould necessary for the traditional casting process. The major breakthrough here is that that the Kinematics 4D printing process eliminates the need for any assembly. Nervous System plan to unveil their latest Kinematics fine jewellery explorations in the near future, so that will be something to look out for.
Kinematics is not the only interesting body of work to be created by Nervous System. They have also developed a number of other 3D product ranges and exhibition projects in recent years. Last Autumn, they used their scientific programming skills to create sculptural works for an exhibition hosted by the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics in Stonybrook, NY. The solo show, Growing Objects explored natural growth processes through simulation and 3D printed sculpture.
Organic product ranges by Nervous System include lighting and home wares, as well as other organic jewellery collections. Rather refreshingly, these products are not only very desirable, they are designed to be both ethical and affordable.
As you may know, we like a ‘good’ business model, and Nervous System also deliver in this respect. In keeping with the modern ‘maker movement’ ethic, they promote interactivity and openness when it comes to their work. Kinematics Cloth and Kinematics Fold are just two of the programs available on the Nervous System website that people can openly access to craft their own customised products. Nervous System source code has also been released under a creative commons license to encourage others to work in this manner.
If you are interested in finding out more, we highly recommend a visit to the Nervous System website. Not only can you explore their work in more detail, you can also play with their free tools and customise 3D-printed design products online.
- Visit the Nervous System website >
- Discover background stories in the Nervous System blog >
- Follow Nervous System on Facebook >
- Get the latest Nervous System updates via Twitter >
- Play with Nervous System apps, including Kinetics >
Image credits: Kinematics Jewellery photo by Jessica Weiser, Black Kinematics Dress 2 photos by Steve Marsel, all other images Jessica Rosenkrantz, Nervous System.
The Kinematics Dress features in the Rhine Capital Partners monthly investment update for February.
- On 26th February 2015