Cebu City, Philippines, 2011-09-25 -
Phoenix explores the possibility of using sustainable natural materials in transportation design. Kenneth Cobonpue and Albrecht Birkner wanted to create a lightweight yet economically viable concept car made of bamboo, rattan, steel and nylon. Phoenix was entirely handmade by a team of skilled weavers and craftsmen in only 10 days. This project attempts to unveil the future of green vehicles using woven skins from organic fibers mated to composite materials and powered by green technology.
Phoenix is inspired by forms and structures found in nature. Utilizing a single spine as found in vertebrae and plants, the concept car uses an exterior structure similar to a leaf. The interior stems from a single woven surface that starts from the front and forms the dashboard, floor and seats. The exterior weave flows around the shape and meets the interior lines in a single bundle comprising the tail.
Cars have always been a product of heavy industry using tremendous resources, expensive tooling and excessive energy. Phoenix challenges convention by sourcing renewable materials from the earth and using a frame that is built by hand using very minimal tools and energy. Today, cars are engineered and built so well that they actually outlive their purpose. People replace their cars every 5 years in industrial countries and 10-20 years in developing countries. Because of this, disposal becomes an environmental problem. Phoenix introduces the concept of a naturally woven skin which biodegrades together with the life of the car. Should a car’s life extend longer than average, this shell can be replaced inexpensively. No longer a product of automation, Phoenix brings back the dignity of the human being and pays homage to the skills of the craftsman. In addition, because it is handmade, frames can be customized according to the needs of the individual.
Albrecht Birkner is a German product designer who studied Industrial Design in Italy. He collaborated with designer Kenneth Cobonpue from Cebu, Philippines and his team of skilled artisans famous around the world for their sophisticated woven furniture.
Welcome the organic beauty of the garden indoors. Inspired by a delicate blossom, Bloom is composed of hundreds of fine running stitches that radiate from the center of the seat. Handmade in microfiber stitched over a resin top, Bloom sprouts from a base made of steel.
Kenneth 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. Integrating locally sourced organic materials with innovative hand-made production techniques offered an alternative to the Western definition of modern design.
Kenneth Cobonpue's creations have earned him recognition at home and abroad. Awards to his credit include 12 Mugna and 4 Katha Awards for design excellence at the annual Philippine International Furniture Exhibition. The Japan Good Design Award was presented for 5 of his designs. In 2004, he won first prize at the Singapore International Design Competition for the Croissant Sofa. Kenneth also won a Golden Shell Award in 2002, a citation given by Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, for embodying the ideals of Asian design. In 2003, he was chosen as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines for his achievement in the field of Arts & Design. In 2005, Kenneth won the Design for Asia Award of Hong Kong, Asia’s highest award, for the Lolah Chair. “Wallpaper” magazine also nominated him as one of the icons of contemporary design along with such world luminaries as Philippe Starck and Antonio Citterio.
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.
AWARDS, CITATIONS, PUBLICATIONS, SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS
1. Craftsmanship Award
International Contemporary Furniture Fair 2001 | New York, USA
2. 2004 Perlas Award for Outstanding Cebuano
Presidential Citation for Embodying Ideals of Asian Design
Given by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo | November 29, 2002,
Malacanang Palace, Philippines
3. Good Design Award 2003 – ASEAN Design Collection
Voyage Bed and Yin & Yang Easy Arm Chair | Japan Industrial Design Promotion Organization |Tokyo, Japan
4. Good Design Award 2004 – ASEAN Design Collection
Pigalle Easy Arm Chair, Kabuki Cabinet, One Night Stand Sofa | C-U C-ME Screen | Japan Industrial Design Promotion Organization | Tokyo, Japan
5. Awardee, Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines 2004
6. First Prize, Open Design Category
Croissant Collection | Singapore International Furniture Design Competition 2004
7. Design for Asia Award 2005
Lolah Collection | Business of Design Week by the Hongkong Design Centre | Nov 21, 2005, Hongkong
8. Design Excellence Award - Best Seating for Lolah outdoor
Design Excellence Award - Best Chair for Dimple outdoor
9th Annual IIDA/Hospitality Design Product Competition | May 5, 2005, USA
9. Outstanding Design Prize
Balou Outdoor | 2005 High Point Show, North Carolina, USA
10.13 Mugna Design Prizes for Exhibition and Product Design
Cebu International Furniture & Furnishings Exhibition | Cebu City, Philippines
5 Katha Design Awards for Product Design
Philippine Furniture Industries Foundation | Manila, Philippines
11. Ten Most Outstanding Alumni
Given on the 50th year of the founding of Sacred Heart School for Boys | Cebu City, Philippines
12.13 Mugna Design Prizes for Exhibition and Product Design 2007
Best Indoor Furniture | Noodle Collection
13. Entrepreneur Magazine’s 10 Most Outstanding Entrepreneurs 2007
Manila Peninsula | Nov 6, 2007
14. Microsoft Special Award for Most Dynamic Entrepreneur 2007
Manila Peninsula | Nov 6, 2007
15. Outstanding Quality and Design Innovation Award
Lolah Easy Armchair | Decorex 2008, London, UK
16. Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2009,
Innovation Entrepreneur Award, Shang-ri La Hotel, Makati | 2009
17. Coup de Coeur Award by Home Magazine
Bloom Easy ArmChair, Maison et Objet 2009, Paris, France
18. Prix D’Excellence Coup De Coeur
Bloom Easy Armchair, SIDIM MONTREAL, May 2011