Kenneth Cobonpue began his passage to design in 1987 studying Industrial Design at Pratt Institute in New York. While completing his degree, he apprenticed for a leather and wood workshop near Florence, Italy. In 1994, he studied 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.
He returned home to Cebu, Philippines in 1996, to manage Interior Crafts of the Islands, inc. (ICI). ICI is a furniture design and manufacturing company founded in 1972 by Kenneth's mother Betty Cobonpue, a designer famous for creating new techniques in working with rattan. 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.
Recent works have produced critical acclaim within the design community. Several of his designs were selected for the prestigious International Design Yearbook (Laurence King Publishing) 2002 edition, curated by Ross Lovegrove, the 2004 edition, curated by Tom Dixon and the 2005 edition curated by Marcel Wanders. Phaidon’s new 2007 book & FORK underscores Kenneth's position as a leader of a new movement incorporating new technologies with crafts. He has appeared on European television including Deutsche Welle and Dutch TV, countless international magazines such as Wallpaper, Newsweek and TIME Magazine, and respected newspapers including The Washington Post and the Shanghai Daily News. Various Cobonpue designs have also appeared in full-length feature films and television such as Oceans 13 and CSI.Kenneth reveals new work each year in design shows from Paris to New York. He also speaks regularly about Southeast Asian design all over the world.
Integrating locally sourced organic materials with innovative hand-made production techniques Award winning Kenneth Cobonpue offers an alternative to the Western definition of modern design.