The Art of Dominoes

A domino is a small rectangular block with one side bearing an arrangement of dots similar to those on dice and the other blank or marked only by lines. The blocks are used in a game called dominoes, where they are placed down in a line and then knocked over by a single action that triggers an entire sequence of other actions. Dominoes are also set up in elaborate patterns to create art. The word domino comes from the Latin for “falling.” A common analogy is that of a chain reaction: when one item falls, it can prompt other items to fall over. This is a powerful way to explain how small actions can have dramatic effects. Dominoes are a popular recreational activity, with a wide variety of games played with them. The most basic set contains 28 pieces, with each end bearing either a number of spots or an identically patterned blank. These pieces are often grouped in suits (one side is marked with one suit, while the other is blank), although some larger sets of dominoes have all the sides with numbers or all the ones without. In a game of dominoes, each player places a domino on its edge so that it lies parallel to the edge of a square or circle that is centered in the play area. Then the player to his or her left places another domino, lining up its edge with that of the first domino and continuing in this manner until all the dominoes are positioned. Then the players take turns placing the rest of their dominoes on their edges, triggering the next piece to fall. Lily Hevesh began collecting and playing with dominoes when she was 9 years old, and by age 10, she’d begun creating her own mind-blowing domino setups. She now works as a professional domino artist, creating stunning domino installations for movies, TV shows, and events—including the album launch of pop star Katy Perry. When Hevesh makes a domino-art installation, she follows a version of the engineering-design process that’s often applied to complex projects. She starts by considering a theme or purpose for the piece and brainstorming images or words she might want to use. She then considers the overall structure of the piece and begins by building a base. She then adds other elements such as lighting and music, and finally she applies her creative talents to the final design. When Domino’s first launched in 1967, founder Tom Monaghan made strategic choices about where to place his stores. He prioritized locations near college campuses, where he knew his target market would be concentrated, and emphasized fast delivery. These tactics paid off: the company quickly grew from its start in Ypsilanti to over 200 locations worldwide.