- Buyer's Guide
5 Minutes with FRANCA
FRANCA is a fusion of inspirations, from Barcelona and Bogotá’s diverse cultures and way of life, to traditional Colombian crafting techniques and a focus on creating functional carry that is built to last. To discover more about the brand we grabbed 5 minutes with co-founder Nicolas Roldan…
What key insights drive your stuff (what have you realized that others haven’t)?
FRANCA designs bags and accessories for everyday pleasure. We combine Colombian handcrafting techniques with unique, ultra-light materials to produce outstanding products.
We started the company 2 years ago after spending 10 years in the bags and accessories business. We had lots of ideas in our heads so we decided to create FRANCA as a space to pursue and develop our ideas.
I’m Nicolas Roldan, an industrial designer, and my partner is Liliana Andrade, an architect. We conceived and developed the brand in two distinct yet culturally rich cities: Barcelona and Bogotá. From Barcelona we’ve taken the Mediterranean, cosmopolitan character – the time devoted to embracing quality of life and the placid rhythm of each day. From Bogotá we’ve taken the energy of an ever-expanding metropolis, blessed with dynamic, driven people who are constantly searching for creative ways to solve everyday problems.
In these two different places we started researching new techniques and materials. That’s what really makes us different.
For example we have created a very unusual leather that we call paper leather which is a soft, resistant, evenly-tanned leather with a paper texture. We’ve worked with chemical engineers to enhance traditional tanning techniques, achieving a light, natural, waterproof finish. To achieve the paper look, whilst maintaining the pliability of the leather, we’ve treated the inner side with a high-quality technical material called Tyvek®. The result is a leather distinct in structure, texture and lightness. FRANCA Paper Leather brings out the natural veins of the skin and, over time, a distinctive patina develops.
Another example could be the handles on our bags which are woven by Colombian artisans using ancient saddle-making skills. We’ve worked with Valentino, an elderly craftsman, to reinterpret a traditional method for weaving horse tacks. Together, we’ve developed strong, soft-touch handles woven in nautical cord which is made in Barcelona – and finished with natural leather parchment.
Who else is doing rad things in the world of carry and why do you think they’re important?
There are lots of brands making really nice products. From the very elegant and carefully designed products of Isaac Reina who keeps his small production in France, to the very outdoorsy and tough backpacks of Trakke made in Scotland. I also love the futuristic look of Côte&Ciel.
Are there any things other brands do that you think are great or could be improved?
I don’t think much could be improved in other brands but more in what could be improved in people’s buying behaviour. One thing that I dislike is when people buy fake products just to show off. I like cheap products but not the ones that pretend to be something else.
What’s next for you guys?
We would love to keep working on trying to find more materials and techniques and perhaps applying them in other products different from bags, who knows…
What do you carry daily and how?
The bag that I always use is one of our bags called Freelance. I have a prototype that I’m using with our new links that we are going to start using on the bags soon. They come from a company in England that produce everything in stainless steel. They are incredibly strong. Each ring can carry 100 kilos which gives us the warranty that they are never going to break.
My essentials that I always carry are:
– Keys with a leather string
– Comme des Garçons wallet
Then depending on the activity I might carry:
– Kryptonite lock if I use the road bike instead of my Brompton
– iPad or laptop with one of our Gimblet sleeves to work on the go
– Old iPod for extra music with headphones
– Ricoh GR1 film camera (I just love 35mm photos)
– Penknife if I’m taking food
– Wooden pen that I really like to use when I’m designing