Lone Pinoy exhibitor impresses Europeans at int’l fair

A Filipino furniture designer is continuously promoting the talents and skills of Pinoys around the world.


Milan, Italy – Joining international fairs is not new to Kenneth Cobonpue, but being the only Filipino exhibitor among other famous labels at Salone Internazionale del Mobile (International Furniture Fair) in Rho fairgrounds is his pride.

Cobonpue talked proudly of his latest outdoor furniture collection, the “Cabaret”.

He said that while a lot of modern outdoor collections are made of plastic, cabaret is made up of a steel frame covered with soft umbrella fabric which can stand the rain or sun.

European customers were impressed by Cobonpue’s innovations.

“All the techniques here and materials are new. I could not find them anywhere else in the show. Also the choice of colors is very well conceived. Everything is brand new compared with what you can see. Even the Italians here, they all basically looked a little bit like the same,” Sergio, a customer from Portugal, said.

Asked how he copes with the effects of the global financial crisis, Cobonpue admitted that it’s hard especially for Filipino furniture makers.

“It’s been very tough, but not only the Philippine furniture industry, but even the Italian and Spanish furniture industry are going through a very difficult time. In fact, here in Milan, there are very few companies who are having something new and most of it is lumang collections, binabago lang using color or fabric, so, everybody is  holding because of recession and here in Europe, everybody is cutting back on development,” Cobonpue emphasized.

Cobonpue believes that Filipinos are naturally talented but he encourages neophyte furniture designers to travel and make something unique to create a name of their own.

He admits that it is already very difficult to compete with Italian and Spanish furniture makers who have been in the market for many years and have established their reputation.

“I think it’s very good to travel, travel around and see what’s out there and try to make something that’s different, something unique,” Cobonpue said.

Cobonpue is a multi-awarded furniture designer who studied Industrial design in Pratt Institute in New York in 1987. In 1994, he studied Furniture Marketing and Production at the Export Akademie Baden-Württemberg in Reutlingen, Germany under a private and state scholarship program.

He is well-known for his sustainable designs which earned reputation in the modern furniture design world.

Philippine Ambassador to Rome Virgilio Reyes Jr. and his wife personally congratulated Cobonpue.

Reyes said his travel to Milan is also to promote the Philippines’ plan to attract Italian investors.

“I came to talk to Mr. Cobonpue, to congratulate him but also to talk to the Italian Chamber of Commerce based in Milan because we would like to be able also in the future, to bring Italian businessmen to the Philippines to see what opportunities there are for them in terms of investment and imports from the Philippines,” Reyes said.

The 51st national edition and 34th international edition of Salone Internationale del Mobile was participated by 1,400 exhibitors who occupied the 151,500 square meter exhibition hall on April 17-22, 2012 in Rho fairgrounds, Milan, Italy. (by: Zita Baron) 



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