Penny For Your Thoughts

minimum wage machine

Minimum wage in the United States is recognized as a sign of financial instability, but it is rarely understood exactly how incredibly draining minimum wage labor actually is.

Blake Fall-Conroy, an artist who strives to create “socially-conscious” pieces, has conceptualized an ingenious way to demonstrate the frustrating, monotonous, and often demeaning plight of minimum-wage worker.

Fall-Conroy invented the “minimum wage machine,” a device with a hand-crank that the user turns continuously, and dispenses a penny every 4.5 seconds. An hour will earn you $8 in pennies, which until eight months ago was the minimum wage in the state of New York.

The artist hopes that the machine will help people understand the amount of work that goes into making just $8/hour, and perhaps inspire sympathy for those who work minimum-wage jobs or provoke change in legislation that will raise the minimum wage (the minimum wage in New York is now $8.75).

What Sparks Our Fire: Art that serves a purpose and sparks social awareness.


living things“Living Things,” currently displayed in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Pittsburgh, imagines bioluminescent algae as home decor, creating an eco-friendly and sustainable living space.

The exhibit, which features a kitchen, living room, and a dining room, envisions a future in which the designers, Jacob Douenias and Ethan Frier, envision “photosynthetic furniture,” or pieces that contain glass vessels of algae. These vessels are wired to heat and light, which causes the algae to grow, making them a source of oxygen.

This living, breathing display is not the first that has used algae as a material; however, the designers say it could become more common in the future, because the liquid suspension of the organism makes it malleable and therefore easy to manipulate.

What Sparks Our Fire: Designers harnessing the power of nature to create homes that homes that boast both aesthetics and sustainability.

Dial In Your Creativity

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 2.34.13 PM The benefits of playing with toys and games have long been understood simply by observing children, but new research has begun to point out the benefits for adults as well. Inc. and have compiled a few of these benefits, including improved memory and increased motivation. And now San Francisco-based Hero Design has created Everbright, designed to have workplaces capture the benefits of adults playing with toys.

Everbright is a wall-sized mood board composed of 464 dials, and is reminiscent of the popular Light-Brite toy. The dials act as the pegs you’d plug into the Light-Brite, and by turning the dials, participants can pick any color in the rainbow to make pictures, patterns, or any other visual their heart desires. The Everbright board acts as a creative game for the office– Hero Design even points out it’s benefits over a typical ping pong table found in break rooms. One person or an entire team can work together to create the designs.

Office “toys,” such as the Everbright board, emphasize the importance of breaking up the work day with creative activities that inspire outstanding work, especially in creative fields like Marketing. Learn more on Hero Design’s website, and take a look at the video below.

Everbright from Romy Randev on Vimeo.

What Sparks Our Fire: Flexing our creative muscles in the office

The Future Of Wearable Tech And Fashion

The world today lives in fear of technology taking overparents complain of their kids being glued to their electronics, websites and advertisements can be tailored to your preferences and location in real-time, and sci-fi movies depict robots whose artificial intelligence is dangerously self-aware. The introduction of “wearable tech,” accessories with electronic capabilities, represents a shift toward compromise: items that both serve to be both functional and convenient, like the introduction of the hotly-marketed Apple Watch or Disney‘s $1 billion investment in the creation and integration of all-access “MagicBands” in their Disney World park in Orlando.
However, as wearable tech becomes more commonplace, functionality and convenience are simply not sufficient selling points by themselves anymore. Now more than ever, as exemplified by brands like Apple and Tesla, there is heavy emphasis on gorgeous product design, and companies are quickly learning to capitalize on it. While wearable tech has existed since the 1961 development of an accessory that helped gamblers cheat at casino games, the trend of marrying fashion and technology has only recently emerged. Designers have now begun releasing their own lines of accessories for the tech-savvy, like Rebecca Minkoff‘s line of wearable techmobile phone chargers and notification chips disguised as normal braceletsat New York Fashion week this past spring, or French designer Pauline Deltour‘s “Fine” collection of tech accessories, which include a Bluetooth speaker, portable phone charger, and USB keyring that are designed to mimic the beautiful designs of early 20th century Parisian vanity objects.

French designer Pauline Deltour’s “Fine” collection

The key to the success of these items, it seems, is not necessarily the introduction of a new device, but instead seamless integration. Consumers have demonstrated an interest in devices that keep them connected, but are aesthetically appealing as well. A demand for consumer electronics with a degree of artistry has driven the creation of things like Ringly, a cocktail ring that alerts the wearer of push notifications on their phone, or Cuff, a bracelet that doubles as an emergency signal. These companies advertise their products as “wearable tech that you want to wear,” desirable for fans of technology that find devices like Google Glass lacking in style, and bringing new meaning to the words “by design.”
What Sparks Our Fire: Companies that are dedicated to both purpose and beauty, making “wearable tech” truly wearable

Phodography 101


What would your dog take a picture of, if he could use a camera? In an attempt to answer this question, Nikon Asia devised a clever way for Grizzler to take a photo (without even lifting a paw) in their latest video that’s gone viral. Nikon strapped a camera connected to a heart-rate monitor onto Grizzler, and designed a shutter that automatically closed when Grizzler’s heart-rate increased.

Grizzler the “phodographer” took some excellent photos of plants, sandals, eggs, a turtle, and, of course, some other dog and cat friends.


People have been strapping GoPros onto their dogs for a while now, but that mostly gives owners an idea of how their pet spends their day, with no regard to the pet’s preferences. Nikon offers a glimpse into what dogs might actually be excited by. As the centerpiece of Nikon Asia’s Heartography campaign, the video does an excellent job showing how photography comes from the heart– especially in Grizzler’s case, where this is more than metaphorical.

Watch the full video here.

What Sparks Our Fire: A viral brand video that gives us an excuse to watch a cute dog take photos