ON THE PALM
Kenneth Cobonpue on design, personal style, and the natural material that holds everything together
The ingenuity of the Cebu native industrial designer Kenneth Cobonpue dates back to his very first work station: his childhood home. In the confines of their backyard, Cobonpue grew up working with his family’s craftsmen. Wanting to cull his creativity beyond making his own toys, Cobonpue became the luxury designer he is today. “I had a rich childhood, I just wanted it to go on forever,” he says.
Being a visionary, he started his brand with the intention of changing the set- up of the industry. “I wanted to change the whole business model because I knew then that China was going to be competitive, [ as well as] Vietnam. The only way we could compete was through design and branding.” Cobonpue’s designs explore and play around the relationship between high- class natural materials and quality craftsmanship, marrying sustainability and innovative skill. With rattan palm as his favorite material of choice because of its versatility, the designer embodies the same quality.
Finding his own niche during the launch of his brand is essential in his entire process. Cobonpue stands by the principle of always doing something different and unique, something that will make the furniture more than just another piece to put in someone’s house. Drawing inspiration from everything that calls his attention, from his nature travels to a crushed can of coke and a croissant, the designer is keen on building ideas with a purpose. “There’s so much in the world. Design has to have a reason for being,” adds the designer.
Now exporting to over 40 countries abroad, Cobonpue has no plans of slowing down. He dreams of working on a hotel in the future, noting its influence on hospitality and the way it is packaged as an experience. Having renewed his role as an ambassador of Sun Life Financial, the designer advocates for financial literacy and creating things which will have a lasting impact. Cobonpue works not only to design things but ultimately, to contribute something to the bigger picture.
GIVING A PREVIEW OF HIS UPCOMING EXHIBIT IN PARIS, KENNETH COBONPUE INTRODUCES A NEW LINE OF LIGHTING FIXTURES. THE LIMBO CHANDELIER (ABOVE) IS ONE OF THE UNIQUE PIECES THAT AIMS TO BRIDGE
PRODUCT AND SCULPTURE.