Who doesn’t know Kenneth Cobonpue? He’s like the Manny Pacquiao of the Philippine furniture industry!
In college, I first came to know about Kenneth as part of Movement 8–a world-renowned group of eight Filipino furniture designers who elevated the image of indigenous materials and gave modern furniture a new face. But, I guess, for a lot of people, he would be the Filipino designer whose works are in the house of Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie (the most famous being his Voyage bed) , and in the casino set of the movie Ocean’s 13.
Kenneth is a Cebu-based designer who studied industrial design at the Pratt Institute in New York. After a series of further studies and apprenticeships abroad, he returned to Cebu in 1996 and started to manage the family’s furniture company, Interior Crafts of the Islands Inc.
Now, Kenneth is known for his organic and often biomorphic designs. By exploring the properties of indigenous materials such as buri, abaca, rattan, and bamboo, he’s able to come up with forms that are unexpected. Apart from exploring the natural materials themselves, Kenneth goes back to nature where he often finds his design inspirations.
[Photo above: Noodle Collection (top) and Retaso dining table (bottom)]
During our trip to Cebu, we were able to squeeze in a quick visit to Kenneth’s Hive. Paolo and Karmel of Kenneth Cobonpue (the brand) toured us around the showroom, explaining the concept behind the displayed pieces. With the sculptural appearance of Kenneth’s works, the showroom looks more like an art gallery.
Aside from looking pretty and interesting, his furniture pieces are amazingly comfortable. Karmel explained to us that a furniture could take upto a year in the making to perfect the form, details, workmanship and, most especially, their ergonomics. Come to think of it, what’s the use of an incredibly beautiful furniture if it’s not comfortable, right?
[Photo above: Pebble tables and the Tilt Chair, which was featured in the set of CSI Miami.]
[Photo above: Matilda outdoor chair]
Now, for some of his recent works, he also turns to people, places, and things as springboard for new ideas. For example, his Pigalle collection is inspired by Pigalle, the red district in Paris, while the Manolo collection is inspired by Manolo Blahnik shoes. For his latest collection displayed in the recent CebuNext Exhibit, the pieces are inspired by the graceful and interlinked details of knits, crochet, and macrame.
[Photo above: Kenneth Cobonpue's booth, CebuNext 2010.]
Check out the rest of the photos of the showroom below. The showroom is located at 3A Gen. Maxilom Ave., Cebu City. To know more about Kenneth Cobonpue and his furniture collection visit his website here and his Facebook fan page here.
*profile picture (top right) via Kenneth Cobonpue
Tags: cebu, designer, filipino designer, furniture, furniture designer, hive store, kenneth cobonpue
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Age doesn’t matter, especially when you’re actively pursuing a dream. At 26 years old, Vito Selma has already made a mark for himself. Vito is a young furniture designer from Cebu. The df team first met him October of last year during Manila FAME’s exhibit. His designs got us really curious about him, to say the least.
We were actually looking forward to see his booth during our visit to the CebuNext exhibit. And, as expected, his collection of furniture and accessories are equally impressive. In fact, he bagged two Mugna Awards: Citation for Material Innovation for the Wrinkle Floor Lamp (below top), and Citation for Contemporary Furniture for the Geo Coffee Table (below bottom).
As I have mentioned before, Vito capitalizes on his creative impulse and whimsical ideas to come up with interesting, fun and partially quirky designs. His award-winning Geo Coffee Table and his Un-Deux-Trois Collection (below) were the results of a three-dimensional play of string art (my favorite project in elementary math!). For his Wrinkle Floor Lamp (above top), Vito wanted to introduce the idea of a “collaborative design” with his clients. The lamp is purchased/delivered with the flat layers of fine wire mesh sheets. It’s then up to the client to crumple it up whichever way he/she wants.
[Image via mocoloco]
Vito has a rich design background from which he has developed his design identity. His family’s firm (Stonesets) is one of the noted furniture companies in Cebu speciallizing in classical/period style furniture, so the industry is nothing new to him. In spite of this, he’s still very eager to learn and to develop his talent through formal and informal education.
“I took Interior Architecture major in furniture design in the Academy of Arts University in San Francisco. Although I had a year and a half left to my degree, I decided to stop. I felt like the course was geared towards architecture and not furniture as they initially promoted. I came back home and decided to work for the company to gain hands on experience instead. From then until now (2007-2010) I worked as the design director in the company and focused on contemporary furniture as the company was a classical manufacturing firm. In the past four years as well, I have had three internships at different times in Johannesburg, South Africa with George de Haast (interior designer to Nelson Mandela, other prominent South African figures and Middle East royalties). It is in this internship where I learned most about aesthetics and the beauty of all things natural,” Vito shares.
”A few weeks ago, I got confirmation from my dream school, Scuola Politecnica Di Design in Milano. I am admitted to the Master Course in Industrial Design. Technically, I get to skip college and head to the masters! It is the same school that I was admitted to learn and intern under the Campana Brothers, but the Italian embassy declined my application,” he continues.
At a young age, Vito has made several achievements in his career. His furniture have made it to the homes of prominent personalities such as Nelson Mandela (most of Mandela’s furniture pieces are from his company), Penny Stein (publicist of Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, etc.), and royalties (read: prince and princesses) from the Middle East and Southeast Asia. He and his works have also graced several glossies locally and internationally like in India (Better Interiors, Living Etc Magazine, Enhance Magazine), South Africa (Habitat Magazine), Brazil (Docol Magazine), and China (Furniture & Interior Design). On top of that, Vito was nominated for Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines in 2009. Whew!
But all work and no play makes [Vito] a dull boy. And a dull boy he’s not! What keeps him busy apart from designing beautiful furniture? Here’s a rundown:
1) Photography. “I recently had a solo exhibit/fundraiser last March 3 where all proceeds of the photo exhibit went to the orphanage of children who are orphaned from parents with aids in South Africa, Johannesburg.”
2) “Extreme” sports. While in South Africa, Vito tried the “Big 3″ all in one afternoon: Skydiving, Quad biking and Sandboarding with Desert Explorers.
3) Traveling. He wouldn’t call himself a wanderlust if not for his love for traveling!
As for future goals, Vito says, “… just KEEP ON KEEPING ON. Finish my masters and see what comes next.”
To know more about Vito Selma, his designs, and his daily musings, visit his website here and his blogs here and here. His designs are available in Manila at Kish in LRI Plaza. [Thank you so much Vito!]
*Photos courtesy of Vito Selma
Tags: cebu, cebu next, furniture, furniture designer, geo table, south africa, stonesets, vito selma
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