Home Decor Insights From The Design Experts

Kenneth Cobonpue, Patricia Liang, J. Anton Mendoza, and Evelyn Lim Forbes on where to get the best bargains and their favorite house-cleaning hacks
IMAGE Paolo Konst (Cobonpue), Kai Huang (Liang and Forbes), Courtesy of J. Anton Mendoza

From the best place to find a bargain to their favorite pieces of décor, we asked design pros Kenneth Cobonpue, Patricia Liang, J. Anton Mendoza, and Evelyn Lim Forbes to give us on word on their world of interiors.

What is your design mantra?
Cobonpue: A design is perfect not when you have something to add, but when you have nothing left to take away.
Liang: Buy the best you can afford and less is often more.
Mendoza: If designed right, it will last forever.
Forbes: Simplicity of both form and function is timeless.

If you could live in any house in the world, which would it be?
Cobonpue: I would take Eero Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center and convert it into my home. The structure looks like it’s about to take off.
Liang: Jack Lenor Larsen. When I was starting out with interior furnishing fabrics back in the early ’90s, I had the pleasure of spending time with Jack. His knowledge of weaving and design was based on years of experience and he is an incredible storyteller. Now, over 20 years later, I would love to sit with him again and be able to have a true dialogue with this great master.
Mendoza: Philip Johnson’s Glass House with all my sleek ultra-modern furniture and Hispano-Philippine antiques.
Forbes: The Agnelli summer monastery retreat in Corsica. The energy of the monastery married to comfort and an idyllic setting, makes this a true respite.

What's the best place to find a design bargain?
Cobonpue: I go to the local eBay site where the manufacturer of the item I am looking for is from.
Liang: Goodwill and other charity shops. Depending on the neighborhood, you'd be amazed at what you can find. At the Oxfa, shop in Hampstead, London, a while back, I found an incredible vintage tea set for 20 pounds!
Mendoza: The flea markets of Clignancourt in Paris and El Rastro in Madrid.
Forbes: Salcedo Auctions. Always the unexpected.


What do you regret not buying when you had the chance?Cobonpue: An Aston Martin DB5, made famous by James Bond, back when you could buy one for the same price as a brand new Toyota Camry. It’s now worth 30 million pesos, and its price is still rising.
Liang: A double Ming cabinet from Honeychurch Antiques on Hollywood Road. This was in 1991 and I have never seen a cabinet like that again.
Mendoza: An 18th-century Hispano-Philippine baul with three locks that ended up with another collector.
Forbes: More works by Claudio Bravo when he drew everything in sight.

Name your favorite chair.
Cobonpue: The Wishbone Chair by Hans Wegner. It is a perfect combination of culture, comfort, and timelessness. I wish I had designed it.
Liang: The George Smith buttoned Chesterfield sofa
Mendoza: The Mart by Antonio Citterio for B&B Italia.
Forbes: Kenneth Cobonpue’s Chiquita Stool—great massage.

Who is your favorite unsung design genius?
Cobonpue: Dieter Rams. He is really unsung in the industrial design profession, but unknown in most parts of the world. His design ethos inspired Apple and subsequently almost all of the beautifully designed electronic and digital products, which have become part of our lives today.
Liang: Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick, the designers of the Aeron chair from Herman Miller. It took them over 10 years to get the chair to the market.
Mendoza: Design genius (not so unsung) is Omon Maravilla, a brilliant laidback Pratt educated architect based in Negros.
Forbes: There are few of them around now with the existence of Internet, as they can now sing their own praises.

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What's your favorite house-cleaning trick?
Cobonpue: Use the Baguio broom with a longer handle so you don’t need to bend at the waist.
Liang: Learning to get rid of things I no longer need or use. We too often hold on to things. Give them away, sell them, dispose of them.
Mendoza: Windex for anything and everything.
Forbes: My housekeepers, Juvy or Elsie, armed with vinegar or baking soda.

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Alicia Colby Sy
Alicia Colby Sy is the former Executive Editor of Town & Country Philippines.
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