Kenneth Cobonpue’s passage to KENNETHCOBONPUE began in 1987 studying Industrial Design at Pratt Institute in New York City. While completing his degree, he apprenticed for a leather and wood workshop near Florence, Italy. In 1994, Cobonpue moved on to studying Furniture Marketing and Production at the Export Akademie Baden-Württemberg in Reutlingen, Germany under a private and state scholarship program, and subsequently worked in Bielefeld and Munich.
These years traveling abroad came full circle upon returning home to Cebu, Philippines in 1996 to manage the furniture design and manufacturing company founded in 1972 by Cobonpue’s mother Betty, also a designer and Pratt graduate. Discovering that modern design could have a new face using natural fibers and materials as the medium, he slowly created the pieces, which form the collection today. Integrating locally sourced organic materials with innovative hand-made production techniques offered an alternative to the Western definition of modern design. And observing creativity through an organic lens while paying homage to the talented handwork of the craftsman would form the core foundation of the designs KENNTHCOBONPUE produces today.
Cobonpue also feels the necessity to share his journey with the young & budding innovators of the future. Weekly pro-bono lectures at the University of the Philippines allow him to stimulate creative thinking while motivating the required equal balance of commercial enterprise.
Over time some wonderful collaborations have ensued including a string of multiple Nobu installations with David Rockwell, the casino bar set of Warner Brothers’ Oceans 13, W Maldives suites with Starwood, and Mukesh Ambani’s Antilia in Mumbai among others.
Many works have produced critical acclaim within the design community. Several of Cobonpue’s designs were selected for the prestigious International Design Yearbook (2002 curated by Ross Lovegrove, 2004 curated by Tom Dixon and 2005 curated by Marcel Wanders) and Phaidon’s 2007 book & FORK.