Changemaker Kenneth Cobonpue and Smart Infinity champion design entrepreneurship and craft sustainability

“I believe that the creative sector is where we can really compete. I’d like to see a whole generation of designers add to our design vocabulary so that we have something that’s truly unique and powerful in the world.”

World-renowned, Cebu-based furniture designer and manufacturer Kenneth Cobonpue expressed his firm belief in the design potential of Filipinos in the final episode of Infinite Legacies, the TV docuseries of Smart Communication, Inc.’s luxury postpaid brand Smart Infinity. In partnership withCignal TV via OneNews Channel, the brand pays tribute to today’s inspiring Changemakers and how they vastly contribute to their respective industries.

Creativity has been in Cobonpue’s DNA since his childhood, as he was exposed to his mother’s furniture company and had the environment to sketch, play with materials, build, and learn about the craft himself. He took up a business course in college out of practicality but midway through shifted gears to pursue something he was truly passionate about—industrial design.


From Cebu to Hollywood

He was overflowing with design ideas and wanted to try them all. His breakthrough happened in the late 1990s when he became one of the Movement 8 members who were given the mission to showcase Filipino products abroad, from Spain to Paris to New York. This became the first important milestone in his career—the realization that he can truly take a Filipino brand to the global stage.

He initially designed for other companies but felt the need to protect his fresh and unique aesthetic discoveries. Armed with courage, he finally launched his own namesake brand Kenneth Cobonpue. He gradually exposed himself in exhibitions in Europe, garnering a new clientele which included royalty and Hollywood celebrities no less than Brad Pitt and Maroon 5.

His brand became known worldwide for expressive pieces which masterfully integrate nature, traditional craft, and innovative technologies. “Wherever I go, I still wave the Filipino flag as I have to thank the country for starting that. Today, I still exhibit around the world. I meet a lot of Filipinos who take pride in the work that I do and it makes me really happy.”

Cobonpue draws inspiration from literally anywhere. If an item is captivating to him or is reminiscent of his childhood, travels, or anything significant, he strives to put that feeling into something that is abstract and tangible. It becomes a very tedious process as it would take at least one year to refine and complete a design.

He pays tribute to his Cebu-based artisans who turn his ideas into objects every day. “There is no formal school for weaving but there is a proud tradition of craftsmanship that is passed from one older generation to the other,” he said. “It’s important for the next generation to make sure that they continue to earn and make a living from this very tradition that we must cherish and protect.”

Advocating design entrepreneurship and craft sustainability

Cobonpue believes that a successful designer must cover both worlds of design and business. “You always have to think about the practical aspects of your craft. How much is it gonna go for? Who’s going to want it? Does the world need this? Always find a reason for your design’s existence.”

Together with Smart Infinity, Cobonpue headlines a design entrepreneurship program, wherein he mentors young designers to bring them to their fullest potential. It also aligns with his advocacy of preserving the craft of design and manufacturing for future artisans.


He particularly saw the capability of his mentees Marriel Colaljo and Chini Lichangco and is helping them further improve their designs in terms of aesthetic, production, and quality. With Collajo’s handbags made of repurposed pressed plastic, Cobonpue advised that the waste materials should transform into a very elegant and luxurious final product that would speak for itself—and being good for the environment would be the icing on the cake.

 The program naturally became part of Cobonpue’s journey, in line with his desire to teach, share, and grow the design community. To this day, he still gets inspired and learns from his personal design ventures. “Every piece that I do is in a way different. It’s always evolving because that’s just the way I am. Some of them may sell, some of them are going to be flops. But in the end, I want to look back and say that I’ve tried it all.”

Through the Infinite Legacies docuseries, Smart Infinity recognizes and honors Filipinos who are principled, passionate, and purpose-driven Changemakers. More than leading a successful life, they create a positive impact in society as the embodiment of the Smart Infinity lifestyle.

The entire TV docuseries airs on Cignal TV via OneNews Channel,Cignal Play, and Smart’s GigaPlay App. Catch the replay episodes featuring Kenneth Cobonpue, Stephanie Kienle-Gonzalez, Len Cabili, and Bea Valdes on the GigaPlay App.


The Smart Infinity experiences

With limitless support and dedicated service, Smart Infinity empowers members and Filipino Changemakers to positively contribute to the world. It offers enhanced customer care experiences and a revitalized suite of perks and privileges through its Limitless plans.

These include but are not limited to: personal relationship manager, Infinity Concierge, dedicated 24/7 hotline, exclusive user experience in the GigaLife App, VIP handling in Smart stores, unlimited 5G data, flagship phones and devices, and privileges with partner brands Manila House, Cala Laiya, Anya Resort Tagaytay, Shangri-La Boracay, Pacific Global One, and Manila Doctors Hospital.

For more information on Smart Infinity’s offers and updates on thenext Infinite Legacies episode, visit the Smart Infinity website at, and follow @smartinfinity on Instagram.