Balsa: Renewable Rattan Story 

product photography:

                                                           Balsa, in its creative audacity, defied expectations by embracing rattan as the soul of its creations. Originating from distant lands like Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and China, this exotic material poses a unique challenge in the Mexican design landscape. However, Balsa not only embraces this complexity; it transforms it into its distinctive hallmark. In the weave between traditional craftsmanship and avant-garde vision, a project emerges where rattan is not merely a medium but the very essence of creation. The skilled hands of Mexican artisans breathe life into this metamorphosis, revealing that for Balsa, uniqueness resides in every interwoven strand.

To simplify the understanding of rattan handling, let's turn to a vivid analogy. As shared by Vero Rubio and Chris Vivanco, the minds behind Balsa, likening it to the art of cooking pasta: with water and steam, the material is coaxed into flexibility. The rattan is steamed and moistened, rendering it pliable. Once softened, it gracefully takes on the desired shape, retaining it as it dries. Steamed for about 3-4 hours, the rattan undergoes a 15-minute window where it's meticulously bent into form. Post this interval, it embarks on its drying and hardening journey. To ensure the preservation of its shape, metallic molds are enlisted, holding it steadfast. The complete drying process spans several days in a shaded enclave. Once thoroughly dried, the rattan undergoes the final stage – selective cutting to shape its destined parts. Like the satisfaction felt at the end of cooking pasta, there's a sense of accomplishment for the work done.

The Camelia chair, a jewel of Balsa's purity, evokes absolute serenity, creating spaces for rest, contemplation, or simply enjoying a book. Its resilience is achieved through knots and weaving techniques, while the uniqueness of its process lies in the choice of water-based finishes, avoiding any trace of petroleum or chemicals. This decision not only preserves the artisans' health and enhances the tactile qualities of the material but also grants the chair an eco-friendly disposition. Every corner it occupies seems to radiate an aura of healing and protection, solidifying the Camelia chair as the starting point to delve into the world of Balsa.

The story of Chris Vivanco unfolds as a tale embracing destinations and experiences. Hailing from San Luis Potosí, Mexico, his journey intertwines from the early steps in design in his hometown to earning a master's degree in Barcelona. This extraordinary journey traverses classrooms, design studios, and the direction of industrial design programs in Monterrey, marking not only his professional growth but also his influence on the next generation of designers. Sundays weren't just days of rest for Chris; they became the loom of his narrative, guiding apprentices through the nuances of design. Upon returning to Mexico, he embarked on his journey in a furniture company, balancing his academic role with the exploration of a unique design style. This equilibrium, over time, transformed Balsa from a side project to his primary focus, capturing all of his attention and passion.

Now, let's delve into the intricacies of working with rattan, as Vero and Chris unveils the enchanting yet unpredictable world of crafting with this magical material.


What are the disadvantages of rattan furniture?

Chris Vivanco & Vero Rubio

Working with rattan is very magical and interesting, but the processes are slow and very unpredictable. There are many variables that directly influence the final result and each new design involves intense learning: sometimes the rattan poles are a little longer, or drier, or with more knots, or the climate is wetter or drier, or the craftsman decided to go fishing for two weeks, or many other variables that initially overwhelmed us but now we take them wisely as part of the process that happens to arrive at something truly unique.


What was the most exciting part of creating Balsa?

Chris Vivanco & vero rubio

In a sense more focused on furniture as such, since they are completely handmade pieces, none are the same as another, and like people, they have their own features, scars and evidence of their past life; They need love from time to time, clean them with water and neutral soap and take care of them from the sun and rain, for example. They are not pieces made in a factory injected in plastic, there are many hands, hours and conversations behind each piece of Balsa.
The most exciting thing about creating Balsa has been being able to learn intensively about such a particular material, and how to transform it: acquire ancestral knowledge and generate new information for generations to come. Each Balsa piece is an open book of all that applied knowledge, so that whoever is interested can read and take it.


Where do you find peace?

Chris Vivanco & vero Rubio

We find peace in our family, in our home and in our daily lives. We love to share everything we have and we aspire to a simple and serene life.

When the mystery of rattan is unraveled, perception sharpens, revealing the intrinsic uniqueness of Balsa's pieces. Epitomizing this discernment, the Mono chair, a creation that transcends the mere function of outdoor furniture. This singular seat, sculpted with the image of a little monkey, encapsulates in its design the harmony between meticulous craftsmanship, contemporary perspective, and ergonomics that promotes comfort.

Understanding the journey of rattan from Asian lands to skilled Mexican artisan hands brings the certainty that a Balsa piece, like Mono, is not simply an ornament; it is a palpable narrative that unveils how contemporary design enriches our existence. Each work of Balsa tells its own story, immersing us in a universe where beauty and authenticity converge in every inimitable detail.

In his role as a former teacher, Chris Vivanco skillfully navigates the dialogue initiated by Balsa's designs. Each piece of their furniture serves as a snapshot, encapsulating passion, dedication, and triumphs in a single glance. On their official Instagram account, when featuring models to showcase their catalog, there's a deliberate act of turning away, as if not posing but embodying individuals who have momentarily forgotten the constant hustle.

In a world seemingly fixated on productivity, Balsa serves as a gentle reminder of the significance of creating space for repose. It urges us to break free from the facade of perpetual motion in our daily lives. Recognizing the burdens of contemporary times, Balsa's narrative emerges as a distinct whisper, prompting us to seize a moment for ourselves, to turn our backs to the constant commotion, allowing the world to follow its course. It patiently awaits our return, inviting us to resume our journey after finding solace in the comfort of rattan.

Embark on a journey with Balsa, where each piece is a chapter, weaving together the rich tapestry of Mexican culture, paying homage to nature, and embodying the artistry of handcraft.

In the end, Balsa's story becomes a reflection of your own.