Oliver Helf studied architecture at the University of Fine Arts of Hamburg and fine arts at Oxfordshire College of Art & Design in England. He went on to study costume design under Dirk von Bodisco at Hamburg University of Applied Sciences. During his studies, he was active in the free dance and theatre scenes in Amsterdam and Hamburg, where he participated in exhibitions and created installations and performances. For his diploma, he designed the set for the premiere of Jörn Arnecke’s opera Butterfly Blues at the Hamburg State Opera. Since his stint as an assistant at Hamburg’s Thalia Theatre in 2008, Helf has worked as a freelance designer, creating sets and costumes for theatre, opera, ballet and dance at various theatres and opera houses around the world. He has collaborated with directors including Stephan Kimmig, Lisa Nielebock, Hasko Weber, Jan Neumann, Martin Laberenz, Nicolas Stemann and Nurkan Erpulat, and has worked with the choreographers Yaroslav Ivanenko, Johnny Lloyd and Jakop Ahlbom. Plays for which Helf designed the set have received invitations to festivals and competitions such as Berliner Theatretreffen, the Berliner Autorentheatertagen, Heidelberger Stückemarkt, the Prague Fringe Festival and the Almagro International Festival for Classical Theatre. Two have been nominated for the German theatre prize Der Faust.
Helf was head of stage design at the Deutsche Nationaltheater Weimar from 2013 to 2018. In Stuttgart, he most recently worked on Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County, directed by Stephan Kimmig.