Noodles, Blooms, Crushed Cola Cans and the Genius of Kenneth Cobonpue

2010/10/04 § 2 Comments

I was invited to attend the SOFA {School of Fashion and The Arts} Lecture Series several days ago (super thanks to Christine Laman) which featured eminent personalities in the Philippine design and art world such as Raymund Isaac for Photography, Rajo Laurel for Fashion, Cynthia and Ivy Almario for Interior Design and Kenneth Cobonpue for Furniture Design.  The lectures were all very inspiring and underscored hard work, commitment  and discipline in achieving success in one’s chosen field.  I am envious of all these luminaries for not only having succeeded in their field but for also working in areas they are passionate about.

I would love to write a post about them all but will focus solely on Kenneth today.  For those who don’t know him, Kenneth is an internationally famous, award-winning furniture designer who studied Industrial Design at the Pratt Institute in New York.   After graduation, he apprenticed in Italy for a wood and leather workshop.  He then pursued further studies in Furniture Marketing and Production in Germany and  honed his craft by  working in Bielefeld and Munich.  In 1996, he returned to his hometown of Cebu to manage the furniture design and manufacturing business founded by his mother.  Using natural fibers and materials (such as rattan, abaca, bamboo, palms and seagrass) as a medium, he proceeded to give modern design a new face and look, such as with the rattan capsule in the following photo.

What I am most amazed about Kenneth is the way he has articulated various inspirations of common origin into fabulous design pieces.  The sofa-on-a-platform and chair underneath, for instance, were inspired by a simple dish of noodles.  I can only wish to have the same level of imagination and skill to translate vision and inspiration into a concrete thing with form and function.

The  chairs hereunder are obviously inspired by flowers, hence the Bloom chair and collection.  And my – how beautiful they are!  To be able to build a utilitarian piece such as a chair and make it resemble a thing whose sole function is beauty, such as a flower, is nothing short of genius.

Finally, here are the Lolah chair and daybed that are simply stunning.  More so when you discover that the inspiration to the collection is a crushed cola can.  Doesn’t the chair actually look like a crushed can?! {Amazing}  Kenneth won the Design for Asia Award of Hongkong in 2005, the highest and most prestigious award in design in Asia for the Lolah chair, which was cited for its form and economy of material.  The pieces in the collection are made from rattan strips and poles using the traditional method of boat-building.

I got the chance to chat with Kenneth after the lecture and found him to be such a warm and friendly person, with no airs for someone who has achieved so much at such a young age.  I am so very proud of him and I pray there be more Filipinos with as great an achievement and as much worldwide acclaim as he has.

To all my friends who have design aspirations, it is never too late to learn .  Run {don’t walk} to SOFA  Design Institute (School of Fashion and the Arts/ School of Interior Design)  for their workshops and courses.  They’re in my list of things to do very, very soon.

Let me leave you with an advice from the genius himself that we can all apply in our endeavours, big or small…

Have a good week, everyone!


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