Sleep Suit by Forrest Jessee is inspired by Buckminster Fuller’s practice of Dymaxion Sleeping, which involves four 30-minute naps over a period of 24 hours, and explores the material requirements for such conditions. Architecturally, the very close relationship between the human body and the suit acts as the generator of form as well as tool to negotiate between the occupant and his or her surroundings.

The project attempts to challenge the idea of personal space in relationship to the human body and its surrounding environment. The structure of the material, a structural pleat, is used as a means to create feelings of connected and disconnectedness, provide varying levels of support where the user needs it the most, and allow constant airflow between the inside and outside of the suit. By thinking of the cut pattern as sections of the body, the suit can act as a semi-permeable, transportable and adjustable coccoon. The sleep suit supports the body in all the right places and at the same time both filters and acknowledges its surroundings and occupant, providing a sound 30 minute nap in a variety of different positions and environments. After all, you only get four of them every 24-hours.

The diagram maps the differences in daily routines between regular sleepers and dymaxion sleepers over a 36 hour period. Other than the increased working and reduced sleeping hours, the main difference in the sleep patterns of the dymaxion sleeper is the sleeping ritual. By analyzing my own ritual, Jessee determined getting ready for bed takes 23 minutes. When his sleeping rituals are used with on the dymaxion sleeper’s schedule, nearly seven hours of the thirty-six hour cycle would be spent on the sleeping and waking rituals. In order to determine where structure is needed, both out of necessity and desire, four of the most likely sleeping positions were chosen to map pressure points on the body. The positions included face up, face down, sideways and head down sitting at the desk. The body was positioned and tested in each one of the positions without any cushioning. While in the position, the person observed and recorded areas they felt uncomfortable and places where they would like to feel more support. The final diagram layers this information and generates a composite map of the body identifying the degrees to which each type of support is needed, which in conjunction with the study models, creates a scale for the thickness of the EVA in the suit.

The primary material of the suit are sheets of EVA foam, which is also used in padding and shock absorption in sports equipment. A three dimensional pleat is inspired from a simple pleat and is laser cut from a single sheet of material, making it an easy textile to manufacture and assemble. Other three dimensional materials such a honeycombs and corrugations typically use orthogonal relationships between their parts.  The Sleep Suit’s structural 3D pleat offsets the connection points on either side, which triangulates the forces for a more efficient and stronger structure.

Like a space frame used in architecture, the material is able to span longer distances and carry more force without the need for bracing members. The connection points and thickness of the material can change to provide varying levels of support and permeability. Each connection point has the ability to wrap according to the contour of the body in that particular location, which allows the material to form around any shape.  Although presented as a Sleep Suit, the textile can be made from any sheet material and can be used in many applications that require support, protection, and/or permeability. The dymaxion sleep cycle was branded as a more “efficient” method of sleeping, where the sleeping phases give the body the rest it requires for survival. By reducing the form to exactly what the sleep program requires, it creates a portable structure that could be taken on and off in less than a minute. It also introduced a new ritual into the sleep cycle: the taking on and off of the suit, which has been identified as an important part of sleep behavior missing from many dymaxion sleepers’ patterns.

Patent Pending No. 12/940,617




Jessee Forrest


Forrest Jessee holds a Master of Architecture I degree from Columbia University and a first professional degree (RIBA I) from the Architectural Association in London.More recently he has worked for Diller Scofidio+Renfro, teaches at both Parsons School of Design and Columbia University and continues to work as a graphic designer for the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia. His work has been widely published and exhibited across the world including numerous blogs, the Discovery Chanel, D2 magazine and MSNBC. He was selected by Surface Magazine as one of America’s most promising graduates in its Avant Guardian Annual Thesis Guide.