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The Kinematic Petals Dress, the latest bombshell of a garment from Nervous System, made its red-hot rounds since premiering at an intriguing show, #techstyle, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA). With its nod to biomimicry in its scaleable, scaled design, it swishes and sways like a gown in a very sexy sci-fi flick. One wishes that you could just slip into it and try it on. Could this be a glimmer of the world we were supposed to have by now, along with our jetpacks?
Using a design process that Nervous System’s Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg call Kinematics, the Petals dress can be produced with selective laser sintering (SLS) on a 3D printer using durable nylon plastic. The Petals dress is modular, output in several pieces (not thousands) with printed hinges that can snap along a few seams that disappear into the final piece. Earlier models could even be folded digitally to be printed in a single run. We were honored to talk to the design and engineering team on our YouTube channel in 2014; so click on to hear what Jessica has to say about their inspiration and process.
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Even if you can’t make it to the MFA, a real Maker-flavored treat awaits you online, where Nervous System’s Jessica Rosenkrantz lays out in great detail much of their design process. This is an awesome piece of engineering and design journaling! I get tingles watching the videos of the portfolio and tools Nervous System’s put together to create this wearable art (a.k.a. fashion). I feel like I can see a little way into the future, where we can use apps to sculpt nature-inspired forms and compress what we print into a single piece on our 3D printers. I imagine boys and girls inhabiting a Minecraft-like world that uses natural forms instead of blocky pixelated cubes to form fit their own fashion fantasies. He might sculpt a tiny piece of interspecies chainmail for his stuffie. She might sketch out and print the loveliest nylon necklace for her mom. Perhaps, they could snap together high fashion coats and capes, LEGO-style, from a set of modular pieces.
If you can make it to the hallowed halls of MFA, you’re in for a real treat. Besides the stunning, “scale-able” stand-out, you’ll see other commissioned pieces by CuteCircuit, Hussein Chalayan, Kate Goldsworthy, and others. Chalayan’s somewhat creepy Possessed Dress, tailor-made for a ballet piece, brings to mind childbirth, puppets, and the movie Alien. In a spiky number by Ying Gao, Incertitudes ensemble (2013) (seen above), proximity sensors activate arrays of pins on the dress. MFA’s show, bless it, also focuses on sustainable textiles and manufacturing methods, including “Happy” entrepreneur and musician Pharrell Williams and Bionic Yarn’s project G-Star Raw for the Oceans.
Makers are no strangers to high-tech fashion, but the museum world is just starting to take note of tech-infused, human-shaped art that has emerged from Makers’ studios and graced the stages of Maker Faire Wearable Tech fashion shows around the world. The MFA show comes a season before a similar show running May 5th to August 14th in New York City at The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Manus x Machina promises “more than 120 ensembles, dating from an 1880s Worth gown to a 2015 Chanel suit” in which “embroidery, featherwork, artificial flowers, pleating, lacework, and leatherwork will be presented alongside innovative processes, such as 3D printing, circular knitting, computer modeling, bonding and laminating, laser cutting, and ultrasonic welding.” The NYC show includes a gala co-chaired by Jony Ive (Apple’s chief design officer) and Anna Wintour (Vogue’s editor-in-chief).
It wasn’t until about the turn of the millennium that museums started including fashion in their exhibits and collections. The fact that this digitally influenced pieces are infusing these shows so quickly points to a bright future for 3D printing, for fashion, and for museums!