My Event World - Pete Allen

Pete Allen, founder of agency 4D Design, spoke to Event about his love of adrenalin-fuelled activities, a standout event in a repair hanger and his desire to see creative ideas executed regardless of cost of delivery.

Pete Allen founded the agency 4D Design in 1994
Pete Allen founded the agency 4D Design in 1994

I got into the event industry because I love the variety and speed of projects when compared to the more traditional architectural practices, which I also have a passion for. Events are a bit like speed architecture – with the right open-minded client you can do amazing things in weeks instead of years.

I have worked here since 1994 when I set up 4D, following a couple of roles at other marketing/events agencies. I always felt exhibitions and events should be offering clients more and so had to try and walk the walk, as they say.

I was attracted to this particular role because
it’s a tired old phrase but it’s my passion, and by that I mean I love it but sometimes hate it also. I love the challenges and the ever-changing landscape that embraces new ideas, technology and thinking. However, rather than most industries where this is an "if it ain’t broke don’t fix it" approach to design, I believe if it hasn’t been broken at least once in development I probably haven’t tried hard enough.

Not many people know that
I am a speed and adrenalin junkie, but perhaps not always with the talent to go with it! I will always have a go though and worry about the pain afterwards.

The best event I’ve been involved was...
 a three-day user conference for 1,000 delegates at Duxford airspace in the repair hanger and aircraft museum. It was a space that wasn’t geared for conferences at all and it had never been done before. There were many challenges but the results were amazing. Those kinds of briefs aren’t the norm but they’re the ones where everyone at 4D comes alive.

If I could do it all over again I would probably make the same mistakes again. If you never make mistakes you’re never going to learn anything – they are all part of how I got here. I’d also try and be a bit more relaxed about things and not make design so personal, but if I didn’t do that I probably wouldn’t be a designer.

The one thing I can’t stand is mediocrity or lacklustre delivery. If you’re going to do something, do it the best you possibly can. As I always say "That’ll do… won’t do!"

Outside of work I spend my time
outside, especially with my family. I’m a real outdoorsy type and fortunately so are they. I love gardening (the construction bit) mountain biking, walking and 1930s-1960s classic American cars, so I go to a few shows and events.

If money were no object I would
probably get bored! It’s all part of the jigsaw that makes up the challenge that keeps me going. It would be great to have the most awesome crowd-stopping idea ever and not have to worry about the costs of delivery quite so much though. Outside of work, if money were no object I’d probably buy an island and try and live off the land just to see if I could.

If I could switch places with anyone else in the industry it would be...
I don’t have anyone specific but I would love to be one of the young up-and-coming designers that are just entering the industry now. Events are so exciting, and it would be amazing to have that fresh view of the industry again and not be so tied up with the day-to-day running of an agency. I wouldn’t change it now though. I love what I do.

If I ruled the event industry I would
probably be a nuisance. I’m not very patient and want changes to happen quickly, and be effective instantly. I know life isn’t like that and it takes time to make things happen, but I’d like to think I could bring increased value to the industry through better client understanding and results. 

More: My Event World - Kim Myhre

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