Oliver Blank talked to Goldsmiths Design students about artwork to inspire wonder and design to prevent suffering

Last week, designer and composer Oliver Blank came to Goldsmiths Design to talk about his career path and the milestones that led him to his current commitment to ‘design for the prevention of suffering’. Oliver is currently Senior Designer at Google Life Sciences, and he is an alumnus of Goldsmiths himself (albeit of an MA course in Music).

In his presentation, Oliver took the audience along on a journey through the various cities he has called home, from his native Manchester to Helsinki, New Orleans and San Francisco, and through the experiences that inspired his work. After staying in New Orleans during Hurricane Isaac in 2012, for instance, Oliver helped put together a means of providing information to locals by pairing up the city’s last working means of communication, phone landlines, with an informative Twitter account. And while bedridden in San Francisco after breaking his hip, Oliver reflected on missed opportunities and thought up ‘The one who got away‘, a phone line where callers can leave messages for lost connections from the past.

Oliver shared with Goldsmiths Design students some of the lessons he learned from his successes and failures. Designers should always think beyond building an item- they should consider how it will be used: ‘don’t just design the thing, design for deployment’. It is also important for them to figure out their ‘why’s, what guides them in every step of their activity. Oliver Blank has found his motivation: to create artwork that inspires wonder, and to design for preventing suffering.