Q: What did you study?
3D Product design
Q: Why did you choose to study at Plymouth?
I started a Design degree at Brunel and didn’t like the course it was too engineering based. I came across the Faculty of Arts at Plymouth University (when it was based in Exeter) when I was taking a friend to Exeter University for an interview. I really like the countryside location and I would also be near friends studying in Exeter.
Q: Why did you choose the course?
The course was one of six courses in the country at the time. I had already tried one that was too mechanical. The course at Plymouth University was more arts based than engineering based, which is something I favoured.
Q: How did your degree help you in the development of your skills and prepare you for your career?
The programme leader Roberto Fraquelli had a vast amount of industry experience which he was able to relay onto us students, he had experience working with prestigious clients in the design industry. A large part of the course was based on presenting material from your own projects to your peers and lecturers. This is something that has been very useful to me because I am presenting in front of a clients on a daily basis in my current role/career. This is something you have to get used to pretty quickly as a designer. It was a very project based the course, which is great because this is how you work in industry so from day one you are nursed in real industry practice.
Q: What do you see as the values of studying at University?
It ultimately focuses between the world of academia and industry. It might not be the same with all courses but it definitely did with my course.
Q: What are you up to now?
I run three companies, two are medical device companies and one is my own design consultancy business. Verger Blackwell devices LTD, Verger Blackwell LTD, and Oliver Blackwell design consultancy.
All of my companies are based around developing and commercialising new products. More often than not we develop technology under our own brand and license it to a medical devices company. My most recent product is the pain free needle. This product came about because of an accident on a HIV ward after the insertion of a large needle. We normally develop products in house and sell them to external companies.
Q: Did you/how did you know what you wanted to do at University and upon graduating?
I really didn’t know what I wanted to do upon graduating but I knew that I didn’t want to work for someone. I had already set up my business whilst at university so by the time I had graduated I had a slight advantage because it had been running for 2 years.
Q: What would you say are your main achievements since graduating?
My main achievement was being awarded membership for the Chartered Society of Designers in 2007. You are assessed on various products that you have brought into the market and your design ability.
Currently my products are in being manufactured in China by over 200 hundred people and there are approximately 10,000 stores distributing and selling my products around the world. Through stores such as Selfridges, Tesco, Wal-Mart in North America.
Q: Where can we see your work?
Q: What are your hopes and plans for the future?
I would like to continue developing medical products. I just don’t know what’s going to happen in the future things have changed so much for me over that last couple of years. You have to be ready for market changes and spot trends before other people.
Q. What advice would you give to people interested in the course?
Work very, very, very hard; become confident at making things with your hands as well as computer skills. To be successful you have to put in an unbelievable amount of hours in, you will be working 16 hours days in your career as a designer. It is hard work but worth it.