Cobonpue work gifted to Trudeau
By Ted Alcuitas

kenneth-660x880The designer with his ‘Yoda’ chairs used during the APEC Summit.

 

A piece by internationally acclaimed designer Kenneth Cobonpue was President Benigno Aquino 111’s choice as a gift to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the lat APEC Summit in Manila.

A Glass Globe by the Cebuano designer is one among five other gifts worth more than $200 which Trudeau has to declare. Of the five ‘coolest things’ Trudeau received, two came from Aquino – the glass globe plus a basket with liqueurs,dark rum (probably Tandauy), vodka and chocolate.

The 47-year old Cobonpue is a Filipino industrial designer known for his unique designs integrating natural materials through innovative handmade production processes.

An online auction of his six Yoda chairs to benefit Unicef’s children’s programs brought in a total of P8.76 million in just two hours last Dec. 16.

The chairs were briefly used by world leaders including US President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and President Benigno S.C. Aquino III at the Apec 2015 welcome dinner reception held at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Highest bid

The highest bid, amounting to P2,050,000, went to the chair used by Trudeau, who was labeled—along with Peña Nieto and Obama—as “Apec hottie.”

Born into the world of design (his mother was a furniture maker herself, and naturally his greatest mentor), the Cebu native has always had a knack for creating. “As a boy, I built most of my own toys with the help of the craftsmen and artisan that surrounded me,” he told Forbes/Lifestyle.

Never content playing with generic, store-bought products, he made things that crawled, rolled, and flew from scratch. “It was an incredibly happy time, and I wanted the expression of creativity from my childhood to last forever, so I decided to make it my life’s work.”