Oliver Ruuger hails from Hiiumaa (‘land of the mischievous spirit’), a small island in the Baltic Sea. Growing up in a fishing community, he worked with his hands every day, building toys and trinkets from locally-available objects; a pattern which laid the early foundation for his appreciation of craftsmanship, and his deep affinity for material.
In 2011, Ruuger graduated from the pioneering Fashion Artefact M.A. course at the London College of Fashion; his final collection consisted of paired objects such as umbrellas, briefcases and saddles, made from leather, metal and horsehair. The objects appeared weightless, invisibly suspended 1 meter from the ground. The pieces were selected for the reputable Futuremap exhibition and the collection won both the Best Off-Catwalk Design Award from the college itself as well as the Accessories Collection of the Year Award at International Talent Support in Italy.
Later that year Ruuger established his eponymous studio, in collaboration with partners Volker Koch and Elke Filpes. Since its foundation, the studio has exhibited a diverse range of work at renowned art galleries and museums worldwide. Studio Ruuger is recognised for its avant-garde, highly labour-intensive luxury objects, which occupy the borderline between sculpture and product; taking inspiration from experiments with technique and form, its signature is a balance between visual appeal and functional integrity. The use of exquisite materials, coupled with a high level of multi-disciplinary craftsmanship, results in unexpected, intensely desirable and visually striking luxury products.
Volker Koch was born into the family of a 4th generation leather goods manufacturer in Lemgo, Germany. Established in 1845, the small but highly specialised family business 'Gebrüder Koch’ included an in-house tannery and engaged in the making of high quality saddlery, harnesses and horse riding equipment, earning the sought-after title as the Purveyor of the Court Fürstentum Lippe by appointment of Karl Alexander, Prince of Lippe.
At the age of 19, after helping in the family business for 5 years, Volker endeavoured to apply for a formal apprenticeship at several competing leather goods ateliers but was turned away as the majority of them feared to educate their own competition. He was eventually taken on by the same company at which his father had been trained 32 years ago. This experience equipped him with extensive theoretical and practical knowledge and fuelled his interest in expanding his knowledge abroad. Passing the final exam with distinction, he went on to work at notable fashion houses such as Hermès and later on as the Head of the Product Development at a luxury leather goods studio in South Africa, where he specialised in working with exotic leathers. After working in Cape Town for 15 years, Volker moved to London in 2010 to complete the Masters Degree ‘Fashion Artefact’ at the London College of Fashion where he met Oliver during the studies.
As a co-founder and director at Studio Ruuger, Volker specialises in achieving a balanced and harmonious transition from concept stage to finished design, with the absolute focus on achieving the highest possible quality of material and make. Striving to source sustainable and ethically produced materials, special care is taken when selecting our suppliers and collaborators.