Oliver Ruuger is originally from Hiiumaa Island in the Baltic Sea. He moved from a rural village to London in 2004 to study BA Fashion at Kingston University, focusing on menswear. As a result of winning a design competition in his second year, he interned in New York during summer 2009 for a well known American fashion brand, designing shoes, accessories and outerwear. This experience ignited his interest for accessories and he went on to do more shoe and accessories based work placements during his studies, including one for the ground breaking shoe designer Nicholas Kirkwood.

Ruuger graduated with an award for studentship and went on to work as an accessories designer for one year, before applying for the MA Fashion Artefact course, run by Dai Rees at London College of Fashion, for which he was awarded the Harold Tilmans Scholarship.

Oliver Ruuger’s MA collection of umbrellas, briefcases and sculptural saddles is a result of a personal exploration of design process, material and make. Taking the archetypal, anonymous, very British bowler-hatted businessman cliché, Ruuger managed to turn it on its head; his umbrella with a ponytail and briefcase covered in soft spikes and metallic studs being the antithesis of conservative dressing. Yet in some way possibly showing what is really going on inside these apparently ‘invisible’ businessmen’s heads.

According to Ruuger, his aim is to avoid ‘inspiration’ and instead cultivate an intuitive and accidental design process. His primary intent is to design and make products that exhibit an intrinsic, almost fetishistic power. Artefacts must command equality between themselves and the viewer, without appearing as if they are just about purpose as a product normally would. The final result is a high fashion product with an emphasis on traditional craft techniques with a view to the future – sculptural fashion artefacts that have strong contrast between high and low tech.

The look of the pieces is derived from initial choices of ‘charged’ materials (bark tanned leather, tone wood, brass, horsehair) and realized through empirical research exhibit not only a stunning, otherworldly beauty but also a high level of technical know-how.

Ruuger makes his collection to order and is currently working on a new project so will be presenting another body of work in the coming year. He is not working for anyone else at this point in time, but might be in the future, if the right opportunity comes along.

This collection was rightly awarded the MA Award in Design and Oliver Ruuger graduated with a distinction.

When asked who his ideal client would be, he replied ‘some illustrious eccentric’… Utter perfection.

All images courtesy of Michiel Meewis

Words by Anna Bang


Dai Rees, nicholas kirkwood, Oliver Ruuger,