The Art of Domino Setups


Domino is a tile-based game with many variants played around the world. The standard domino set consists of 28 tiles, although many games are played with smaller sets. In Europe, domino sets are typically made from bone or silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, or a dark hardwood such as ebony with contrasting black or white pips inlaid or painted. Other materials including ceramic clay, frosted glass, and metal are also used for more novel sets, or to provide a more substantial feel.

While domino is best known for being a game of chance, it can also be a strategically-thinking game. Players try to score points by laying dominoes end to end so that the exposed ends match: i.e., one’s touch two’s, and so on. Some games also incorporate special tiles called doubles that can be played at right angles to the line and count the pips on both sides of the tile.

Lily Hevesh started playing with her grandparents’ classic 28-pack of dominoes when she was 9. By the time she was 15, she was posting videos of her mind-blowing domino setups on YouTube. Today, she has over 2 million subscribers on her channel and creates spectacular domino setups for movies, TV shows, and events, including Katy Perry’s album launch.

Hevesh’s creativity and engineering-design process begin with brainstorming images or words she might want to include in her setup. She considers the theme and purpose of her installation, as well as the physics behind it. She then starts arranging the dominoes in straight or curved lines, focusing on the placement of doubles to help create the most balanced and stable structure.

Once a domino is set up, it’s important to play on a hard surface so the tiles don’t slide around. A player must also be careful to avoid placing a tile over one with no matching pips, as this can cause the rest of the dominoes to fall over.

The first domino to fall begins the chain reaction that continues down the line until all of the dominoes are flipped over. This chain reaction happens because a domino has potential energy, or stored energy based on its position. When it falls, this energy converts to kinetic energy—the energy of motion—which travels to the next domino and provides the push it needs to topple.

Just like a nerve impulse traveling down an axon, the energy from a falling domino is all or nothing—it cannot go back up the axon and stop. This is why domino is so much fun to play—and it’s why it’s also so dangerous to work with! This is why it’s important to listen to your employees and customers, and keep your business’s values front and center. For example, Domino’s CEO recently reaffirmed the company’s commitment to “Champion Our Employees.” It’s an important value that helps to ensure that people want to work for you—and to keep coming back for more.