BLOG #234: Kenneth Cobonpue: APEC Summit 2015's Wonderland Creator

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(Source:  Google)

 

KENNETH COBONPUE:

"A world-class Filipino designer"

 

(Source:  Google)

 

Kenneth Cobonpue

(Source:  Google)

 

Meet Kenneth Cobonpue

They call him the "Rock Star of Philippine Design,"  "Manny Pacquiao of Philippine Furniture Industry," and even TIMES called him "Rattan's First Virtuoso."

A native of Cebu, Philippines, Kenneth Cobonpue has made his mark in the international design market especially furniture.  He was born and raised in Cebu but at a young age, he left his hometown to study abroad.  He studied and finished industrial design at Pratt Institute in New York City.  In 1990, to complete his degree in industrial design, he apprenticed at Centro Azur.  Centro Azur is a leather and wood workshop in Florence, Italy.

From 1994-1996, he furthered his studies at the Export Akademie Baden-Württemberg in Reutlingen, Germany taking up Furniture Marketing and Production.  In between those years, he apprenticed at Firma Decker & Reposa in Germany.  He apprenticed in cabinetmaking and woodworking.

In 1996, he took another basic course in woodworking machine at Holz Berufsgenossenschaft in Munich.  He then apprenticed at a woodworking and upholstery factory in Munich.

He then returned to his hometown to manage his mother's furniture design and manufacturing company, Interior Crafts of the Islands, Inc.  His mom, Betty Cobonpue, is also a designer and a Pratt Institute alumna.

Kenneth went on to receive awards which include:

  • Hong Kong’s Design for Asia Award
  • Japan Good Design Award
  • American Society of Interior Designers Selection
  • French Coup de Coeur Award
  • and the first Asian Designer of the Year title given by the Maison et Objet in Paris.  He is the first Filipino to be awarded with this.

 

(Source:  Google)

 

(Source:  Google)

 

Kenneth and The Stars

Kenneth's works uses mostly rattan and bamboo and other natural fibers and materials infusing them with non-biodegradable materials.  His designs and works are furniture and work of art combined.  This gives uniqueness and indigenous look to his works.  His ingenuity earned him collaborations to movies like Oceans 13 and Total Recall and TV shows like Nip/Tuck, Suits, CSI Miami, etc.

(Source:  Google)

 

It is interesting to note that Brad Pitt, one of the stars of Oceans 13, recognized the furniture when he walked in the set.  Brad Pitt loves Kenneth's work that he bought several of his furniture.  The furniture used for the movie set were auctioned among the stars and staff of the movie.

 

(Source:  Google)
(Source:  Google)

 

The bed used in Maroon 5's Never Gonna Leave This Bed music video is called Voyage Bed.  This was liked by the couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie so much that they bought it for their son, Maddox.

 

The Phoenix:  The World's First Bamboo and Rattan Car

(Source:  Google)
(Source:  Google)

 

The photos above is called The Phoenix.  This is first car made of bamboo and rattan, steel and nylon.  This 153 inches long car is said to be "powered by green technology."  They are still planning though on how to power this aesthetically beautiful car.

 

Kenneth Cobopue Rocking the APEC Summit 2015

With his education in industrial design, woodworks, furniture making; with his travels around the world; with his experience here and abroad, it is no doubt why he was chosen to design the APEC's dining table, lighting and Presidential Token.

(Source:  Google)
(Source:  Google)

 

The design of the dining table used during the APEC Economic Leaders' Welcome Dinner was inspired by the Banaue Rice Terraces found in Banaue, Ifugao, Philippines.  Kenneth believes in showcasing what Filipinos can do and what our country can show.  Thus, he drew insight locally.  The centerpiece of the table was a design of a garden and small rice terraces.

(Source:  Google)
(Source:  Google)
(Source:  Google)

 

The white canopy light that was used for the dinner party was inspired from the anahaw leaves.  Two dozen lamps were hanged above the table.  These lamps slowly changed in color, giving the dinner a warm and welcoming feel.

(Source:  Google)

 

Kenneth's Yoda Chair was made of rattan inspired by natural blade grass.  The chairs used during the APEC Summit was modified by adding armrests and wheels.  It is also changed into swivel chair so the leaders can freely move 360 degrees.

 

(Source:  Google)
(Source:  Google)

 

"Sama-Sama" meaning together or unity is the name given to the limited edition souvenir or "Presidential Token."  Sama-Sama was designed by Kenneth.  In this sculpture, it consists of tiny linked figures that surrounds the group of islands as the linked figures ascends towards the heaven.

(Source:  Google)

 

This limited edition souvenir or Presidential Token represents togetherness and unity as these leaders work hand in hand towards growth and progress no matter how diverse and different we are from each other.

These tokens are encased in glass and comes with "hand-woven metal and buri (palm spine) carrying case with brass handles and clasp."

 

Fun Facts

  1. Brad Pitt owns 7 of Kenneth Cobonpue's pieces.
  2. His furniture are distributed in 27 countries.
  3. He is one of the designers for NAIA 1's re-design.
  4. He did not pass the entrance exam for UP College of Fine Arts.
  5. Despite being a renowned furniture designer and maker, only one of his siblings owned a piece of his furniture.

 

Kenneth Cobonpue is an inspiration not only in his design and craftmanship but also in putting an effort to make the Philippines known to the world.  When he insisted putting "Made in the Philippines" in his works, he did not have orders for two years.  He almost decided to remove the label but he persevered and his perseverance paid off.

Some big companies like Louis Vuitton and Kenzo approached him and made an offer to him that they will add some of his pieces to their collection.  Kenneth wanted that his name and the label "Made in the Philippines" be retained but the big companies did not agree to that.  Kenneth refused the deal and many other deals such as that.

Kenneth proved to the world that Third World Countries can do great and beautiful things.  We have lots of talents that we can show to the world.  We may be looked down and belittled, but if we keep our head up and be strong in our resolve, be persistent and believe in our abilities,  then we can be on top of the game.

(Source:  Google)
 


About the author

ako-eto

Loves to travel, nature, hiking, exploring, foodie, photography.

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