One of the most inspired design studios working at the intersection of science, art, and technology today is Nervous System, a Massachusetts-based team led by Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg. In the past, I have touted their spectacular lamps, housewares, and jewelry designed with algorithms derived from patterns in nature and printed in 3D in a variety of materials. But Nervous System is clearly dreaming bigger as they combine their interest in kinetic work with providing solutions to industry-wide constraints presented by the printing machines themselves.

Although the promise of 3D printing is immense, there are still major constraints in the process, one of which is the size of the build chamber, the area in which items are printed. This forces large 3D printed objects to be printed in pieces and assembled afterwards, which can be time consuming and costly. So Nervous System has come up with a dress made up of thousands of interlocking pieces that make it flexible and, importantly, foldable. Once the system of interlocking pieces was designed, they created a folding program to determine the smallest volume a garment made up of these pieces could occupy so it could be printed in one piece and worn straight out of the build chamber. They have printed two dresses to date, and I think it's safe to say they succeeded in creating something truly noteworthy.

The Kinematics dress is comprised of 2279 unique triangular panels interconnected by 3316 hinges that click and twitter like a flock of chattering birds. The style is endlessly customizable with their Kinematics Cloth program, but it's hard to imagine you could beat the elegant simplicity of the design they ultimately went with:

Their folding software, Kinematics Fold, reduced the dress by 85% to find the smallest volume it could occupy in the printer and the 3D printing company Shapeways did the (extremely dirty!) job of printing it. Have a look at the exciting moment when it first came out of the build chamber:

Kinematics Dress by Nervous System - 3D Printed by Shapeways from Nervous System on Vimeo.


Nervous System projects

Kinematics Folding App

Kinematics Clothing App

**correction: I initially stated that the second prototype had been acquired by the MoMA for their permanent collection, but in fact they acquired the first printed dress, not a prototype. The second printed dress, pictured here, was commissioned by AutoDesk.