“I believe that the creative sector is where we can really compete. I’d like to see a whole generation of designers add to our design vocabulary so that we have something that’s truly unique and powerful in the world.”
World-renowned Cebu-based furniture designer and manufacturer Kenneth Cobonpue expressed his firm belief in the design potential of Filipinos in the final episode of Infinite Legacies, the TV docuseries of Smart Communication, Inc.’s luxury postpaid brand Smart Infinity. In partnership with Cignal TV via OneNews Channel, the brand pays tribute to today’s inspiring changemakers and how they vastly contribute to their respective industries.
Creativity has been in Cobonpue’s DNA since his childhood, as he was exposed to his mother’s furniture company and had the environment to sketch, play with materials, build, and learn about the craft himself. He took up a business course in college out of practicality but midway through shifted gears to pursue something he was truly passionate about – industrial design.
From Cebu to Hollywood
He was overflowing with design ideas and wanted to try them all. His breakthrough happened in the late 1990s when he became one of the Movement 8 members who were given the mission to showcase Filipino products abroad, from Spain to Paris to New York. This became the first important milestone in his career—the realization that he can truly take a Filipino brand to the global stage.
He initially designed for other companies but felt the need to protect his fresh and unique aesthetic discoveries. Armed with courage, he finally launched his own namesake brand Kenneth Cobonpue. He gradually exposed himself in exhibitions in Europe, garnering a new clientele which included royalty and Hollywood celebrities no less than Brad Pitt and Maroon 5.
His brand became known worldwide for expressive pieces which masterfully integrate nature, traditional craft, and innovative technologies. “Wherever I go, I still wave the Filipino flag as I have to thank the country for starting that.
Today, I still exhibit around the world. I meet a lot of Filipinos who take pride in the work that I do and it makes me really happy.”
Cobonpue draws inspiration from literally anywhere. If an item is captivating to him or is reminiscent of his childhood, travels, or anything significant, he strives to put that feeling into something that is abstract and tangible. It becomes a very tedious process as it would take at least one year to refine and complete a design.
He pays tribute to his Cebu-based artisans who turn his ideas into objects every day. “There is no formal school for weaving but there is a proud tradition of craftsmanship that is passed from one older generation to the other,” he said. “It’s important for the next generation to make sure that they continue to earn and make a living from this very tradition that we must cherish and protect.” Read full story on manilastandard.net