Fashion

Kenneth Cobonpue's Everyday Style

The creative relies on easy pieces that doesn't take away from what he needs to do.
IMAGE Carolina Herrera
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Here's good news to start the work week: Industrial designer Kenneth Cobonpue promises more good things from his well-recieved Star Wars collection. “There’s more to come in the near future. We have, in development, wooden figurines inspired by Star Wars characters collectively titled Little Armada. We’re working on bringing it to the market soon,” he says.

IMAGE: Lucasfilm

From Chewie, the rocking stool in a furry micro-fiber reminiscent of the famous sidekick, to Babar, a study-cabinet in the shape of an elephant, Cobonpue's work is always surprising and expressive.

To dream up these pieces, the Cebu-based designer cites anything—“old notes or a crushed soda can or a bowl of noodles”—as unlikely sources of inspiration. He also turns to clothes that don't require too much bandwidth, allowing him to concentrate on work.

IMAGE: Carolina Herrera

How else does Cobonpue keep his mind fertile? And what does a very busy man, who presents work in Manila, Milan, and New York, wear every day in order to get the job done?  

His style has an island mood.

My style is dictated by my moods and, of course, the occasion. I spend most of my time in Cebu where everyone dresses comfortably. It’s not as urban as Manila, so we dress with a resort vibe—but even that is changing. 

His daily uniform is no-fuss. 

These weeks, it’s been just black-on-black capped off with comfortable leather sneakers. I am too lazy to mix and match. 

His most recent stylish acquisition is practical. 

My last purchase was a camel-colored leather laptop sleeve I can tuck under my arms before I do my presentations. 

Here are a few of his can't-live-without pieces. 

IMAGE: Patek Philippe

1| A mechanical watch because you can wear it for both casual and formal occasions. A bunch of springs and gears on my wrist reminds me of man’s ingenuity to invent devices that can store energy, measure and tell time, and tell you the date and state of the moon all at the same time.  

IMAGE: Carolina Herrera

2| A black velvet blazer by CH Carolina Herrera to make anything I wear luxurious.  

IMAGE: Uniqlo

3| A pair of slim black jeans because it's versatile.  


4| A pair of black leather sneakers because anything less would be boring.  

IMAGE: Apple

5| An iPhone because I simply can’t be disconnected from my life support system. 

He finds inspiration for work when he is not at work.

I travel a lot, drive my classic cars, and explore other fields of design. It’s important for me to be open to all kinds of possibilities, and one of way of doing that is to have my hobbies and other passions to escape to.

Apart from this, I also work with non-profit organizations like MovEd and Habitat for Humanity to use the influence and skill I’ve been gifted with to help others.  

He shuts down weariness by working with young people.

Doing what I do for so many years now, it becomes easy to be jaded. But as consultant of La Salle Benilde’s Industrial Design department, and being surrounded by positive and young hopefuls, I am motivated and inspired by their bright-eyed passion and determination.

It reminds me that there’s still so much to do for the Philippines in terms of pushing our local design community to international shores. And one way of achieving this is through education. It lays the foundation of discipline and basic principles, and as they say, you have to know the rules before you can break them. 

His next project outside of furniture is something that we all need.

I am working on a line of waterproof rain boots and gear to help Filipinos cope with waist-high flood and sudden calamities.

Kenneth Cobonpue is part of CH Carolina Herrera's first anniversary Insignia exhibit.

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Clifford Olanday
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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