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

Design Manager | 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.

Slava Orlov

Mechanical Engineer

Slava holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from VCU and an A.S. in Computer Science from TNCC. He has experience designing high-end products such as precision measuring and testing equipment for the tobacco industry and cutting-edge scientific tools for microscopy and optics. Slava most enjoys R&D and problem solving, but is a jack of all trades; working on his car or house in his spare time, or enjoying the outdoors, a local brewery, or a book.

Ryan Beaver

Mechanical Engineer

A graduate of VCU's Mechanical Engineering program, and current master's student in the VCU da Vinci program, Ryan isn't afraid to get his hands dirty, and can be found just as often in the machine shop as at his desk. When he isn't at SPARK or in class, Ryan can be found on the saddle of his bike exploring Richmond's restaurants and riverfront.

Shane Diller

Biomedical Engineer

Shane recently joined the SPARK team as a jack of all trades engineer. He received his B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2014, and then took a stint teaching entrepreneurship, startup operations and design. He returned to VCU and received his M.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 2020. When he is not working, he enjoys staying active through rock climbing, hiking, and working out.

Philip O'Connor

Business Relationship Manager

Philip comes to us having previously served Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) College of Engineering as their Corporate Relations Officer. At VCU, Philip worked with faculty, staff, and students to develop new programs for industry to engage on campus. From finding meaningful Capstone Senior Design projects for students to developing a continuing education course focused on Industrial Automation, he brought industry and academia together for mutually beneficial engagements. Philip will become essential to our company and it's relationships moving forward and will be hyper-focused on the client experience in working with the SPARK team. Philip and his wife, Sara, live with their dog, Mr. Black, in their old row home in the Church Hill neighborhood of Richmond.

Charity Stevens

Bookkeeping | Administrative Assistant

Charity keeps everything balanced - the finances and the people in our office. She's a hardcore 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.