Yoda. Bloom. Z Bar. Voyage Bed. Dragnet Longue Chair.
Cebuano industrial designer Kenneth Cobonpue has enthralled plenty of people—from Jordan’s queen to Hollywood’s royalty—by his notable creations.
But before sunshine and rainbows, he also experienced rejection when he did not pass the drawing exam for the Fine Arts program in University of the Philippines. This prompted him to take up drawing lessons and later applied at Pratt Institute in New York City. Eventually, he earned a diploma in Industrial Design and graduated summa cum laude. He was also an apprentice in leather and wood workshop near Florence, Italy. In the year 1994, Cobonpue studied furniture marketing and production at the Export Akademie Baden-Württemberg in Reutlingen, Germany under a scholarship program.
He finally went back to Cebu in 1996 to help manage his family’s furniture business founded by his mother, Betty in 1972. It was during the time of managing their business when he realized that modern design could have a new blend by using natural materials as a medium.
Cobonpue was hailed as rattan’s first virtuoso by TIME Magazine and was declared as the Designer of the Year in the first edition of Maison et Objet Asia on March 11, 2014 in Singapore. Not just that, he received multiple awards such as the Japan Good Design Awards, French Coup de Coeur award, Design for Asia Award of Hong Kong, and American Society of Interior Design Top Pick, among others.