Curiosity and a spirit of exploration have always been driving forces for alumna Magdalena Paluch (MS 12 Industrial Design), co-founder and CEO of LabTwin, a venture whose main product is a digital assistant that improves workflows for scientists and researchers working in laboratories.
“Technology and science are what motivate me,” says Paluch, who launched LabTwin in 2019. “They’re closely intertwined, and they transcend disciplines.” But before LabTwin, Paluch’s education and career trajectories followed many paths, each one building upon the knowledge she’d gained with the last.
After Paluch left a traditional undergraduate architecture program in Poland for a U.S. program on the forefront of emerging trends, her fascination with how people interact with spaces and objects blossomed. In spending time with fellow architecture students who built and customized cars, she realized that certain concepts in digital architecture and UX were also found in automotive design and manufacturing. This sparked her interest in how humans interact with machines, as well as in how they interact more intimately with a machine’s environment.
Paluch’s growing interest in design eventually led her to ArtCenter’s Graduate Industrial Design (Grad ID) program. The different paths and people she encountered while at ArtCenter proved tremendously influential for her. She cites Transportation Systems Design Executive Director Geoff Wardle and then-faculty Tisha Johnson (BS 99 Transportation) as mentors. During three semesters of independent study, Paluch focused on the systematic elements of mobility design as it relates to human interaction with products and car interiors.
“I never had a classic approach to anything,” she laughs. “I was interested in really pushing the envelope of what was possible with manufacturing, what was possible with the interaction between humans and machines, and how multisensory design can impact behavior. And then I became interested in pushing the limits of materials, from both a human interaction and a sustainability perspective.”
Professor Krystina Castella, who taught in the GradID program, introduced Paluch to new ways of experimenting with materials. She dove further into product design in the College’s Color, Materials and Trends Exploration Laboratory (CMTEL), where she worked closely with color, material and finish expert and former Product Design faculty Liliana Becerra. Inspired by Product Design Professor Heidrun Mumper-Drumm, the College’s sustainability initiatives director, Paluch began incorporating life cycle analysis into her design process. This sparked in her a love for the importance of experimentation and a product’s ecological footprint. To this day, Paluch counts Becerra, Castella and Mumper-Drumm as mentors.
Even as she continued to move forward in her practice, Paluch took detours. She landed internships that continued to shape her development, working on electric car interiors, human-machine interfaces and industrial products before being accepted into a coveted program at Toyota.
Toyota led her down yet another path. Paluch interned in the company’s business unit, where she was told that Toyota was interested in how her design background could help inform the automaker’s business opportunities. Though she was a lone designer among many MBAs, she was given leeway to shape her role and the impact she could make on Toyota’s long-range advanced product plan.
After completing her internship and graduating from ArtCenter, Paluch was offered a UX designer position at Fisker Automotive. But rather than continue along what would have been a more traditional design path, she decided to leap into the world of business and product strategy at Toyota. She shaped a new role for herself within Toyota’s Advanced Product Strategy group, where she helped the company identify and conceptualize emerging technologies in its mobility and robotics market.
After four years at Toyota, Paluch decided she wanted to apply her knowledge of emerging technologies to health care and other industries, and she joined Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Digital Ventures. Initially, she managed design disciplines, eventually rising to become the company’s director. In that role, she led interdisciplinary teams and launched ventures in industrial goods and health care.
When the opportunity presented itself, Paluch launched LabTwin, a company whose mission is to accelerate the outcomes of scientific discovery and development using voice recognition and machine learning in research labs. By using the company’s digital lab assistant, scientists can collect data, manage experiments, streamline documentation and more, simply by talking.
Paluch, who has always been passionate about health care, describes her work at LabTwin as existing at the intersection of design, science and business. “We developed a platform for life science laboratories that works like a digital assistant,” she says. “It’s a specific niche under the broader health care umbrella. Our direct impact focuses on enhancing the work of scientists, but our indirect impact is on patients, who will hopefully get faster access to new treatments.”
Paluch says she’s fascinated with how emerging technology, science and design influence our well-being. “Shaping behaviors with health data and biohacking is a burning platform for me right now,” she says. “It’s another fascinating path to follow. I just need the time to make the leap and scale it up.”