Pauline van Dongen’s new 3D-printed responsive garment

Heard of Pauline van Dongen yet? Since 2010, she designed several marvelous futurist garments. From a flexible solar dress to the first ever fully 3D-printed shoes, she explores the boundaries of fashion through her aesthetic work. In collaboration with architect Behnaz Farahi, she recently presented a living-like dress at SXSW to show how 3D-printed fashion can be used to augment the body.

Ruff, an interactive 3D-printed wearable

Resulting from a three-week collaboration with architect Behnaz Farahi, the research project has been initiated as part of Pauline’s PhD program ‘Crafting Wearables’Ruff, the 3D printed responsive wearable, was created from the designers’ shared interest in enhancing the interaction between bodies and their surrounding environment. Ruff takes its name from the protective folded collar popular in Western Europe from the mid-sixteenth century to the mid-seventeenth century that can often be seen in portraits of the period.

Ruff reveals how wearables can be imbued with responsive and dynamic properties, and endowed with almost life-like behaviors. Mechanical principles of springs were explored in order to create resiliently moving structures by means of solid 3D printing. Various topologies and surface modification enhanced the aesthetic expression of the spiraling form as well as to control the types of motion it could afford around the body.


Following a highly iterative and hands-on process, whereby printed samples where continuously tested on the body, the designers had to face many constraints. Beginning with the 3D printing materials available to them. In particular, they were limited to rigid and fragile materials. Various topologies and surface modifications were explored in order to enhance the aesthetic expression of the spiraling form as well as to control the types of motion it could afford around the body.
The designers were also constrained by the limited bed size of the 3D printer, when compared to the scale of the human body. They ingeniously solved this problem by twisting the spirals within one another to make the most efficient use of the available space. Nitinol springs were incorporated into the design to actuate the contracting or expanding motion of the 3D printed spiral. This resulted in a breathing like, organic entity that would seemingly crawl over the body.
The designers believe that the notion of such responsive systems, even though still speculative, could address numerous design challenges, especially considering how emerging technologies are capable of amplifying the performative qualities of fabrics. Ruff was developed in Los Angeles as part of a three week collaboration at 3D Systems’ printing facilities, situated in the studio of, founder of The Black Eyed Peas, as well as a (wearable) tech entrepreneur. The design was fabricated with 3D Systems’ ProJet 3500 HD Max printer, which uses FMD (fused deposition modeling) printing technology to print solid plastics encased in wax support material. The project’s video is a collaboration with the director and filmmaker Nicolas Cambier.

Pauline van Dongen | Previous collections & work

Pauline van Dongen researches the body in a technologically textured space. After graduating from ArtEZ, Academy of the Arts in Arnhem, the Netherlands, she started her own womenswear label in 2010. Pauline operates a meticulous research of the behaviour of experimental and high-tech materials, combining new technologies with traditional techniques to constantly renovate craftsmanship. Working closely with companies from the field of science and innovation, Pauline aims to merge fashion and technology giving life to scientific creations. See below for our selection of her most iconic work so far.

Phone-charging wearable Solar Dress

Oloid Collection

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