We are passionate about bringing functional, beautiful products to the market across a variety of industries. Together we find elegant solutions, bringing viable ideas to life with design that balances form and function. Whether introducing new technology or streamlining existing processes, we believe in supporting our clients with creativity, dialogue, and technical know-how.


SPARK is a function-focused product design firm based in Richmond, Virginia. We bring design expertise and a creative approach to partnerships with established companies, research institutions, and startups. Our previous clients include known brands such as Honeywell, Lowe’s, and Intel as well as renowned universities such as the University of Virginia and Johns Hopkins University. No matter the project or its status on the road from concept to refinement, we meet our clients where they are and help bring their ideas to fruition.


William (Bill) Riley

Owner | Engineer

Having come from a background of larger companies, Bill co-founded SPARK in 1997 to be a different kind of firm; one which listens to clients and champions their product vision. A talented engineer with vast mechanical experience, Bill is often the first to think of a simple mechanical solution to solve a complex problem. Having grown up with 10 siblings, Bill isn't afraid of what others may call chaos. Bill is also an avid sailor, boat builder, and family man.

Bruce Ferris

Managing Partner | Engineer

After college, Bruce bounced around in various professional positions, from methods engineer at a precision metal fabricator, to management positions at businesses ranging from start-ups to publicly traded companies. He discovered that he enjoys designing, problem solving, and interacting closely with customers and vendors, so SPARK has been a perfect home. You can find Bruce outside the office exploring Richmond's restaurants and craft beers.

Paul Rockwell

Design Engineer

Paul has been with SPARK since April of 2000. He's enjoyed his time here thanks to the diversity of products our clients bring to the table. He also appreciates working for a small, privately-owned business that does not treat its employees as a number. If you can pull him away from work for a few minutes, ask him about his cars. He's always working on something interesting, and it's typically loud and fast.

Chris Murray

Industrial Designer

Chris is a Richmond native who graduated from Virginia Tech's Industrial Design program in 2009. He has worked on everything from museum exhibits, to children's toys, to power tools and commercial machinery. Chris is a hands-on designer who doesn't mind getting dirty, and he prides himself on having a diverse background and skill set. Outside work you'll find him putting miles on his bike, rock climbing, or exploring the James River.

Richard Arena

Mechanical Engineer

Richard graduated from James Madison University and moved to Richmond in 2013 to begin working at SPARK. Fascinated by the design process, Richard is drawn to SPARK by the opportunity for creativity merging with disciplined engineering principles. A people person, he enjoys getting to know all of our interesting clients and their unique projects. Away from the desk, you'll find him working on cars, cycling, and making homemade pasta with family.

Sean Higgins

Manager | Medical Products

New knowledge is discovered at the intersection of disciplines. We call this innovation. Sean's passion is innovating at the intersection of engineering and medicine. A Mechanical Engineering graduate from Virginia Tech, with a Biomedical Engineering Master's from Virginia Commonwealth University, Sean is the go-to resource for all things medical. On the weekends you may find Sean on his custom built motorcycle or spending time with his family.

Matt Teachey

Mechanical Engineer

Another Hokie, Matt earned his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech in 2012. He worked in R&D for several years before moving back to Richmond to study Product Innovation at VCU’s da Vinci Center. He started developing products for SPARK in 2015. Do you like beer? Well, so does Matt. His mental lists and preferences can rival those of any Capital Ale House.

Charity Stevens

Bookkeeping | Administrative Assistant

Charity keeps everything balanced - the finances and the people in our office. She's a hard core fan of Formula 1, and is extremely savvy about all the real estate areas of Richmond. Ask her about her favorite places to live and best new places to eat in town.

See What We Can Do.