"High Fire!": Holding Hands Ignites Communal Candle


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High Fire is a set of 4 pairs of mittens that need each other. 4 pairs, 4 people, hands raised, all together, and when they high five or join hands, a stream of electricity courses through them, travels down a wire and ignites a candle, instantly symbolizing their communal bond in the form of the warmth of fire in the winter. The object was designed by Natsuki Hayashi in Becky Stern’s Making Studio class in the Products of Design MFA program.

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Teamwork is a crucial component of any effective workplace or learning environment, as it enables the members of the team to pool their energy and resources together to tackle increasingly complex problems. In order to have good teamwork, it is also essential to build trust and constructive communication among the members.

“The metaphor of the project is the fostering of an open, cooperative and synergistic environment where the fires of creativity have the sufficient means to be sparked.”

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Natsuki offers that “the metaphor of the project is the fostering of an open, cooperative and synergistic environment where the fires of creativity have the sufficient means to be sparked.” High Fire was thus designed as an intervention in this team-building process, a fun way to promote group activities even in the coldest confines of winter. Users are encouraged to create, perform, and share a short series of physical actions that culminate in a full circle of high fives—or the joining of hands—which in turn ignites the candle. The lighting of the candle serves as both a symbolic and physical manifestation of their elevated cooperation. "If teamwork is about making connections," she argues, "then High Fire is an attempt to maintain the spirit of those connections through the warmth of human contact, interaction, and communication.

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The object was designed to be replicable without the designer’s presence. The step-by step instructions on how to make High Fire is available online at Instructables. People are encouraged to make their own version of High Fire, as well as "to create, perform, and share their own physical actions/rituals to boost their teamwork and to experience that magical moment of delight when the first sparks of creativity are born."

Below are some process photos on the making of High Fire along with the circuit diagram.

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