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Kinematic Petals Dress by Nervous System

Nervous System

The Museum of Fine Arts of Boston commissioned Massachusetts design studio Nervous System to create a new dress for the exhibition “#techstyle” which runs from March 6 through July 10, 2016. The exhibition explores the synergy between fashion and technology and how it is not only changing the way designers design, but also the way people interact with their clothing.

Inspired by petals, feathers and scales, Nervous System developed a new textile language for Kinematics where the interconnected elements are articulated as imbricating shells. Like their previous garments, this dress can be customized to the wearer’s body through a 3d scan, and additionally, each element is now individually customizable: varying in direction, length, and shape.


Petals protrude from the underlying framework of tessellated triangular panels, sheathing the body in a directional landscape of overlapping plumes. Each interlocking component of the dress is rigid, but, in aggregate, they behave as a continuous textile. The dress is 3D-printed in durable nylon plastic by Selective Laser Sintering.


While the design is composed of more than 1600 unique pieces interconnected by more than 2600 hinges, it emerges from the 3D printer fully assembled and ready to wear. Nervous System employ a smart folding strategy to compress Kinematics garments into a smaller form for efficient fabrication. By folding the garments prior to printing them, the design team can make complex structures larger than a 3D printer, that unfold into their intended shape.


To make this dress possible, Nervous System developed new design software and simulation tools. The overlapping petals necessitated a new strategy for compressing the garment for efficient 3D-printing. Learn more about the project here.

You can see the dress in person in the exhibition #techstyle at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston from March 6 through July 10, 2016.


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all images and video courtesy of Nervous System