Pinoy designs shine at international furniture showcase

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

May 20, 2014

NEW YORK CITY – When Hollywood stars like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have slept on a bed designed by Kenneth Cobonpue, you know the designer is world class.

Cobonpue is just one of the many Filipino designers whose creations have been recognized worldwide. The Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), the export promotions arm of the Philippines, brought 15 of them to what is considered as North America’s ultimate platform for global design.

The Philippine delegation at the 26th annual International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York is led by multi-awarded designer Kenneth Cobonpue.

Cobonpue said, “This show is important for the designers because it’s their chance to showcase their work in America and the ICFF is the only modern and design show here in the country.”

Design Philippines is a branding initiative to put the Philippines on the map as a source of finely crafted products for the world market.

The Philippine Pavillion at the Javitz Convention Center showcased the best of what the Philippines has to offer as the undisputed source of finely crafted products in Asia.

The Philippine Pavilion was designed by international furniture and interior designer Budji Layug and Royal Pineda – advocates of modern Filipino architecture and design.

“What we’re trying to do is to promote the Philippines in a more holistic way. We’re trying to create an environment that really represents the Filipino’s modern sensibility,” Pineda said.

Layug said, “I think if we continue on the path of modernity and craftsmanship and design, I think we can elevate the perception of what the Philippines can do in terms of products and environment and design, showcasing the feeling, the soul of Philippine craftsmen to the world.”

From a humble katsa or muslin cloth turned into a sophisticated lamp — the eye catching Fandango hanging lamp is a collaboration between Cobonpue and Hong Kong-based designer Danny Fang.

Cobonpue said, “There’s wire inside that you can bend and you can shape. You can create your own, like a gigantic flower over your dining table.”

Industria’s metal craftsmanship may not be screaming Filipino but its CEO Jude Tiotuico says what sets Philippine designs apart is how it was made.

Tiotuico said, “We still use our ingenuity in hand crafting. We know that our design still comes from our hands, we make them by hand.”

Cobonpue said, “There is a Filipino look that is emerging. It’s handmade, its mostly made of natural materials, it’s very artisan — craftsmanship in quality and look.”

Ito Kish’s award-winning Gregoria lounge chair is inspired by wooden balusters found at vintage Filipino houses during the Spanish period. Kish says he is inspired by all things Filipino.

“The effort of the government is really to expose the design in the world stage,” Kish said. “It’s a good representation so that people will get curious and interested to go to the Philippines and source more furniture which is going to be good for the industry.”

You may contact Don Tagala at for more information.

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