Early 2000’s Colombia was nothing like today’s. Growing up in a country that was just recently transitioning from its 50-year conflict into a more functional society, was a challenge for kids and families alike. Ricardo Ballen and his family were no exception. Born in Medellín, Ricardo was brought up in his safe-haven family home in a place where much of Colombia’s underlying essence resides: the countryside. Here, where most of us Colombians first find our love of nature and passion for artisanship, Ricardo too rode horses and learned about carpentry, agriculture and tradition.
It was these intricate values that later accompanied him while attaining a degree in Product Design at IED and Istituto Marangoni in Milan. Because most of this academic experience was, however, based on a more industrial approach to design, he later returned to Colombia to work at a renowned textile company that would eventually provide him with unique business tools to build his own.
During his time back in Colombia, he also re-connected with an artisan with whom he’d worked while riding horses. This skilled man, originally in charge of developing custom equestrian accessories in raw leather and bold hardware, was now working with Ricardo on a few functional tote bags at the eager request of his -then girlfriend, now wife- Carina. The “Cari Bag”, still present in today’s Ballen, was soon a hit. Orders were coming in from friends and family and this, along with his ongoing fascination for leather furniture, drove Ricardo back to Italy to study Leather Goods and Pattern Making, thus becoming a “Pellettiere” from ArSutoria alongside Italy’s best. It was after this that Ballen was born.
The brand has now evolved from its original shapes and international feel, to focus more on its local background and honest approach to luxury. With an ever-fondness for local materials and an enthusiastic eye for overall design, Ballen has shaped a new way of thinking where conscious craft and overall sustainability are not just part of the brand’s core, but rather its actual purpose. It is also proud to introduce an overlooked approach to Colombian flair, where the magic comes not only from its renowned topicality but also its timeless, countryside heritage and natural lushness.