Ruff: Pauline van Dongen’s Newest 3-D Wearable Tech

Ruff is a 3-D printed responsive wearable, which represents a collaboration between architect, Behnaz Farahi and talented fashion designer of futuristic garments, Pauline van Dongen. The two share an interest in enhancing the interaction between bodies and their surroundings. Making its debut at  the 2015 South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, Ruff's name derives from the stiff, folded Elizabethan collars so often depicted in the oil portraits of Western Europe's 16th and 17th century aristocrats.


The Ruff Collar: Source: EcouterreThe Ruff Collar: Source: Ecouterre


How did Ruff come to be?

 Ruff was a research project that was the result of a three-week collaboration that took place in Los Angeles, California, in January of this year. This collar is a part of van Dongen's PHD program entitled: Crafting Wearables. It represents a look into how clothing can help humans interact through movement instead of just lying there on our backs, chests, arms, legs, etc. Wearables as responsive entities that appear to crawl  across the wearer's body with almost life-like precision are not things we ever think about, or at least we haven't...until now.

The creators wanted a flexible structure and found that traditional 3-D printing materials were either too delicate or too inflexible to work with. According to the website, they decided on "the form of a folded coil or spiral that could move with the body" and named it Ruff after the frilly Jacobean and Elizabethan costumes of eras long faded into the mists of time.


Ruff Responsive Collar: Source: Chung-Creator's ProjectRuff Responsive Collar: Source: Chung-Creator's Project


Pauline van Dongen and 3-D printing

Emerging technologies such as 3-D printing, appeal to designers like van Dongen who foresee the need for a revolution within the ranks of the fashion industry itself. She firmly believes that the focus on production cripples the opportunity to rethink the textile process. Experiments in 3-D printing could  pioneer the development into clothing that is more body-focused and responsive to movement. Her hope is that more designers will follow her example and be inspired by the possibilities beyond the door that she so bravely opened.

 How did Ruff become a moving, almost breathing garment?

The design was developed with the support of 3-D Systems, USC Cinema School, (founder of The Black Eyed Peas and wearable tech entrpreneur) and Crafting Wearables. Solid 3-D printing helped to create the spiral's movement via the exploration of the mechanical principles of springs. The goal was to explore the challenge of amplifying the qualities of fabrics to actually perform on the body of the wearer.


Ruff Collar- Side View: Source: ClausetteRuff Collar- Side View: Source: Clausette


The  design was fabricated with 3-D Systems' ProJet 3500 HD Max Printer, which uses Fused Deposition Modeling (FMD) technology to print solid plastics encased in wax support material. The designers were challenged by the limited bed size of the 3-D printer, which they resolved by twisting the spirals within one another to make them fit into the available space.

The future of Ruff and other wearables

Accoridng to Ruff co-creator, Behnez Farahi, "the future of wearables, or near environments involves gear that will be almost indistinguishable from the body. They will become more and more integrated with our bodies to the point that it will become an extension to our bodies as a second skin...Just as our skin can respond to various internal and external stimuli so too our outfits would do the same in the future and be able to define various social issues such as privacy, intimacy, gender and identitiy."

Watch out for the works of Pauline van Dongen .

She is really just getting started!

Closing thougths on fashion/ creativity:

Inside all of us there is a wild thing. ~

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