Ruff by Behnaz Farahi & Pauline van Dongen

Image courtesy of Behnaz Farahi

Ruff by Behnaz Farahi & Pauline van Dongen

Ruff is a 3D printed responsive wearable, designed and developed by architect Behnaz Farahi and fashion designer Pauline van Dongen. 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. The project also exemplifies how 3D printing can play an important role in fashion, by augmenting bodily experiences as well as offering new opportunities for clothing to mediate between bodies and their surroundings. The interest of both designers lay in enhancing the interaction between bodies and the surrounding environment.

002Image courtesy of Behnaz Farahi

Together they worked on their concept of creating a dynamic environment around the body, using 3D printing technologies. They followed a highly iterative and hands-on process, whereby printed samples where continuously tested on the body. The designers were constrained by the 3D printing materials available to them. In particular, they were limited to rigid and fragile materials. Nonetheless, early tests revealed that structures in the form of a spring proved surprisingly flexible even when printed using rigid materials. The design therefore took the form of a folded coil or spiral that could move with the movement of the body. 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 by the bed size of the 3D printer, when compared to the scale of the human body.

003Image courtesy of Behnaz Farahi

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, who is both frontman and founder of The Black Eyed Peas, as well as being a (wearable) tech entrepreneur. The design was fabricated with 3D Systems’ ProJet 3500 HD Max printer, which uses MJM printing technology to print solid plastics encased in wax support material. 


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