Kenneth Cobonpue, Revolutionizing Filipino Design
Kenneth Cobonpue is a proud Cebuano industrial designer, who is internationally recognized for his signature designs and collections in natural fibers and other materials.
Born of Chinese descent, Cobonpue was encouraged to take up a business course at the University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus. He then realized that business isn’t really for him, so he decided to apply in the Fine Arts program of the school, which was offering Industrial Design at that time. Unluckily, he failed the entrance exam since he lacked the skills in drawing.
Things changed and more opportunities came knocking at his door when he attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. Here, he took up Industrial Design. While studying, he worked in a leather and woodwork shop in Italy. Cobonpue graduated from the school with highest honors and later worked in Italy and Germany.
In 1996, the designer moved back to his homeland to help his family in managing their business. From there, he discovered that by using natural fibers and other raw materials as a medium, he can launch a revolution to the Western definition of modern design. His designing skills were honed due to the country’s abundance of raw materials and skilled artisans.
Together with Celso Advincula Jr., Cobonpue partnered with Interior Crafts of the Islands and founded Hive. It is a group where people design, manufacture and produce great lighting and world-class interior accessories under one roof. This community allows designers and skilled craftsmen to create original ideas, forms and textures with a strong sense of aesthetics and functionality.
Recently, Kenneth was hailed as the “Designer of the Year” in the first edition of Maison et Objet Asia. He also appeared in countless magazines, European television and newspapers from around the world. Other than that, his designs were featured in various full-length films and TV series, including Crime Scene Investigation and Oceans 13. Cobonpue also serves a roster of clienteles like Brad Pitt and members of royalty.
Cobonpue’s designs utilize local and natural materials – including rattan, buri, seagrass and abacca, which make his brand unique. He aims to redefine the Philippine industry by spreading sustainable design to a global audience.
Kenneth Cobonpue, Revolutionizing Filipino Design by Holly Bissonnette