Dean Poole: Buttons for eyes

In this interview, the creative director of Alt Group talks about not having "buttons for eyes" and how to see the simple, obvious ideas.

Dean Poole, a former sculptor who is now the creative director of Alt Group, sees business as a material that can be moulded to express certain thoughts and ideas.  

“Design is really about having a conversation, whether it is between two people or you and an object or an experience,” he says. "The more diverse the conversations, the better your chance is of having a unique one," he says. 

He goes on to share an example of their work for client Fisher & Paykel where they helped the client to engage their audience around the possibilities of what a kitchen could be.

“We created a 75m long kitchen and created prototypes for different kinds of cooking and invented food experience,” he explains. “We then invited 5000 people to come and engage with the engineers and designers of the company and talk about the future of appliance.”

For example they made an Earl Grey Biscuit and ginger nut tea which together still maintain that taste memory.

He explains that he tries to look at the world and break it down to try and see the obvious idea that nobody’s ever noticed: “those are the ideas that I love the most.”

Poole then shares the saying that they have in the studio when people can’t see something clearly or obvious they have “buttons for eyes” like a toy.

He believes that some of the best ideas are the obvious, simple ones that we all overlook and he uses actual button eyes that “give the world a wobble and messes with people’s heads” to remind us to look. 

Creativity is like a sport without the umpire. You have to invent your own rule system that enables you to find those unique simple ideas.

Watch the Talk with Dean Poole