Meet LOOMIA Creator: Ray LC

Ray LC is an interdisciplinary artist and designer based in New York City. You can find him gesturing emotively to robots and other furniture at Parsons School of Design, patrolling the streets of Madison Square Park in VR goggles, teaching social dancing with a dramatic flare (most of the time in Japanese no less) at Columbia University, and burning down the kitchen with spicy Singaporean cuisine at International House NYC. He is also a neuroscientist.

As a selected designer in our LOOMIA Creator Lab, he will work alongside our product team and engineers to design a customization for one of our core products, the LOOMIA Electronic Layer (LEL).

Q&A with Ray

How did you discover LOOMIA?

I got involved with LOOMIA through Ezgi Ucar, LOOMIA’s Chief Product Officer. I got in touch with her through Parsons School of Design while working in Yuchen Zhang’s Wearable Technology course.

What’s your background?

I’m a creative synthesist working to make new channels of communication among humans, and between humans and the tools they create.

After working extensively in machine learning and neuroscience research, I’m looking to apply state-of-the-art understanding about human behavior and smart object design to textiles, materials, devices, and garments that improve the plight of humans on this planet that they are responsible for. I did neuroscience work at UCLA and in Japan’s RIKEN institute, before working on fashion at Tokyo MODE. I’m currently employing creative technology in machine learning-enabled installations at Parsons School of Design.

Ray fuses human behavior with smart object design. He previously worked on an augmented reality fashion experience. Using Augmented Reality, the user can construct a story about the creation and destruction of the universe.

What are some of your interests?

I’m a dance instructor at Columbia University where I teach salsa, zouk, samba de grafiera, swing, hip hop, new style hustle, etc. I teach the different dances as different languages with their own related grammar. Learning salsa is like learning Spanish; if you know English (ballroom), then it’s easier to pick up Spanish. If you stop practicing, you’ll forget. Some of us are multi-lingual, practicing both swing and salsa, for example. Even the rhythms are related: salsa is on1 or on2, while zouk is on3. I explore dance by performance, choreography, and digital projects.

How does your background affect your approach to smart textiles?

My background in neuroscience, AI, and machine learning brings a behavioral and computational perspective to wearable devices.

I think of wearables as components in a space of smart devices that influence us and also create with us.

My deep considerations in scientific research areas lead me to push boundaries, ask questions that don’t get considered, and work with experts from diverse, seemingly unrelated fields.

What are some particular areas in this field you want to explore?

I want to explore movement actuators on fabric to help those with difficulties expressing themselves, as well as for dancers and creatives. I’m also interested in joining the physical and digital domains, seeing what the analogies of our daily physical objects are in the digital domain. In conjunction with that idea, I explore how artificial intelligence affect and effect physical intelligences like ourselves.

One of Ray’s previous projects involved sculptures with interactions and an audience built with machine learning, an exploration of creativity for machines.

What are some of your design inspirations?

I’m inspired by cultures and people around me, in particular the way people approach social groups, the way they make gestures and movements, and the way they inspire each other. In general, I’m inspired by people’s daily choices.

Recently I practiced Ramadan to consider what my close Pakistani friends go through in their month-long ordeal. I came away with not only inspiration, but consideration of why not drinking water for 19 hours in a day affects how we move and think in the world. And I also got close to people I loved, which is the true inspiration for any design.

At LOOMIA, our mission is to deliver comfort, safety, and confidence to the human experience by adding intelligence to everyday objects. One of our core products is the LOOMIA Electronic Layer (LEL), a smart textile layer that can be integrated into soft goods to perform heating, lighting and sensing functionalities.

With the LOOMIA Creator Lab, we have invited designers, engineers and the LOOMIA Product team to design a LEL customization for a brand that starts with user experience and functionality in mind.

Over the next few weeks, we will be documenting Ray’s design progress — follow along!