Cobonpue's design featured in Hollywood garden

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 24 2011 04:21 PM | Updated as of May 25 2011 05:47 PM

Andy Garcia attends unveiling of Pinoy designer's pergola

LOS ANGELES, California - Award-winning Filipino furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue once again made his mark in Hollywood.

The Cebu-based designer created the pergola in a famed Hollywood garden unveiled recently.

Cobonpue graced the reception where he was introduced as the designer of the pergola giving shade to the people visiting the garden built by the foundation of the late Hollywood couple James and Paula Coburn at the Motion Picture and Television Fund headquarters.

One of the guests at the reception was Hollywood actor Andy Garcia, former co-star of James Coburn who is famous for his cowboy roles.

"I was contacted by the James Coburn Foundation. James Coburn gave a lot of money, an endowment, to the Motion Picture and Television Fund. That's the mother organization of the actors, of the film industry in Hollywood. He was always into Asian things, Zen and philosophy. They commissioned me to do this pergola and we built it in Cebu and we spent about four months designing and making it and then we shipped it all here," Cobonpue said.

"I'm happy that I'm here, and I'm happy that I can become an inspiration, too, for Filipinos around the world," the designer added.

Cobonpue already has a following among Hollywood actors. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were his first famous A-list clients.

The Queen of Jordan and Will.i.am of Black-eyed Peas also ordered furniture from him recently.

Cobonpue's furniture have also been featured in films and TV shows in the US.

The film remake of "Total Recall" with Colin Farrell in the lead features Cobonpue's work.

Two big furniture stores in Los Angeles--Twentieth Design and the Pacific Design Center--sell Cobonpue's work in the US.

Staying grounded

Asked how he stays grounded in the midst of all the success he is reaping, Cobonpue said, "I don't think about it at all. I always think about all the things that I haven't done yet instead of the things that I already did, and that humbles me."

Even as he continues to make it in Hollywood and other parts of the world, Cobonpue has no plans to leave Cebu. This is where he has his factory, and where he teaches Filipino youth who want to become furniture designers like him someday.

He advised them: "You should start slowly. I mean with my mom's furniture (business), although we had all the people, I had to restart all over again because we had to re-train people. We had to make new designs and create new techniques. We had to start again slowly from nothing."

According to Cobonpue, almost all the members of his family are US citizens already. But he has chosen to remain a Filipino citizen to continue with his desire to help the country with his business and talent.

Cobonpue is set to unveil in September in Paris, France his design for "Phoenix", a car using bamboo and rattan.

He is currently studying what machinery to use for Phoenix, which has a biodegradable form. The car design was first shown at an exhibit in Milan, Italy. Cobonpue said he will most likely use a Filipino-made machine for the car.

Upon his return to the Philippines, Cobonpue will finish the design for the renovation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 and Cebu airports.

He is doing these projects pro-bono, saying the opportunity to help showcase Filipino talent to the whole world is enough compensation. -- Report from Yong Chavez, ABS-CBN North America Bureau