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Rattan table by Christian Vivanco for Balsa

Christian Vivanco launches rattan furniture collection Bajío for Balsa

Dezeen Showroom: furniture designer Christian Vivanco has teamed up with Mexican brand Balsa to produce a collection of furniture from rattan called Bajío.

The Balsa brand was created with a focus on working with master artisan experts in natural fibres including rattan – a type of climbing plant with a flexible woody stem – to help preserve a knowledge that is at risk of disappearing in Mexico.

"Balsa is a young project that seeks to become a new platform to promote synergy between artisans and young Mexican designers through an efficient and sustainable conversation," Vivanco told Dezeen.

Hanging rattan chair by Christian Vivanco for Balsa
Bajío was created together with local artisans. Top: the collection contains 16 pieces

For the brand's first collection Vivanco designed 16 different pieces, including lounge chairs, mirror, tables and sculptural totems that reference both Mexican crafts and European influences.

"I love working with rattan for different reasons," Vivanco said. "From the design field, it seems to me a spectacular material for all the personality and unique character that distinguishes it from all other materials."

"It has a great history that goes hand in hand with the design history of the last two centuries, being a participant in great classics and an accomplice of great design masters."

Rattan lounge chair by Christian Vivanco for Balsa
Designs reference Mexican crafts

All Vivanco's pieces for the Bajío collection use large amounts of rattan and were made together with Mexican artisan rattan weavers.

"Collaborating with artisans is not that different from collaborating with anyone else; the particularity that I find is that they live their trade and experience in a very direct way; they see themselves in their work, and as such, they are professionals par excellence," Vivanco said.

Rattan totems by Christian Vivanco for Balsa
The sculptural totems can be stacked

As well as its functional pieces, such as a glass-topped coffee table, a coat rack and a bar stool, Bajío contains a selection of decorative sculptural totems that can be stacked for easy transport.

"The Guajes are a set of decorative totems that serve both in their sculptural sense and to divide spaces and channel behaviours," Vivanco explained.

"Thanks to their light nature, both visually and in weight, they allow dividing without cutting spaces, and can be easily rearranged."

Lounge chair in rattan by Christian Vivanco for Balsa
Rattan is "one of the most sustainable materials for furniture manufacturing"

In addition to being light, rattan has the benefit of being one of the most sustainable materials for furniture manufacturing in the world, the designer said.

"Rattan grows back in just five to seven years, making it a genuine renewable resource," Vivanco said. "Rattan rods are similar to bamboo, although they are stronger in that they have a solid core."

"Rattan furniture manufacture is low-tech, which means that it does not require chemicals or excessive energy consumption. And although quite durable, rattan furniture can be recycled after its useful life has ended," he added.

"As it is a natural material, it is 100 per cent biodegradable."

Rattan totem by Christian Vivanco for Balsa
Local rattan weavers worked on the collection

The material also helps keep forests in place, since rattan is a type of vine and needs trees to grow.

Latin American crafts and materials have a lot to say to the world, Vivanco said, adding: "I am fascinated to see how Mexico and all of Latin America have become a pole of inspiration for creatives from all over the world, and I can only hope for the near future where the definition of design includes the thinking of other cultures beyond Western Europe."

Photography is by C129 and Christian Vivanco.

Product: Bajío
Designer: Christian Vivanco
Brand: Balsa

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More images

Rattan stool by Christian Vivanco for Balsa
Rattan hanging chair by Christian Vivanco for Balsa
Rattan side table by Christian Vivanco for Balsa
Collection of rattan totems by Christian Vivanco for Balsa