Kinematics 4D-Printed Dress

Generative design studio Nervous System looks to pattern and form in nature to create a fully flexible, customizable garment


Founded in 2007, generative design studio Nervous System has been working with cutting-edge computer simulation and digital fabrication technologies to create some of the most interesting products on the market. Now, founders Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg have developed their most innovative concept to date: a fully customizable dress made from their Kinematics 4D-printing system.

3D-printing has generally presented a challenge for garment-making because they print stiff plastics that have no give, says Rosenkrantz. “That has resulted in a lot of fashion designers creating gorgeous, futuristic pieces that look amazing in a magazine, but feel like you’re encased in a hard plastic cage,” she explains. Unlike any other 3D-printing system however, the Kinematics integrates hinged panels into the design for a two-fold benefit; first, allowing the dress to fully conform to the body’s unique shape, and second, creating the ability to compress a design into a smaller form that can be unfolded into its full form after printing, making for more efficient fabrication. Additionally, the Kinematics Cloth application constructs each garment according to an uploaded body scan, making the dress a flexible, one-of-a-kind exoskeleton. For example, Nervous System’s prototype is structured by thousands of unique interlocking components, all 3D-printed as a single piece in nylon, requiring no assembly.


Recognizing the studio’s ingenuity, MoMA has acquired the dress, along with the software that created it for their permanent collection. Nervous System finds much of its inspiration for both form and function in nature, such as in its 2011 Hyphae lamp, which used a 3D-computing process to mimic the unique structure of plant leaves for its design. “How can we adapt computer simulations that biologists are using to understand how form and pattern emerge in nature?” she asks. “This dress is our latest project of combining engineering and science techniques with design and digital fabrication.”

Create a one-of-a-kind Kinematics dress using Nervous System’s Kinematics Cloth app. While the garments aren’t for sale just yet, users can design and save attire for now, with ordering hopefully possible early next year.

Images courtesy of Nervous System