Given its associations with decaying hill stations and hippy hovels, rattan furniture has not traditionally had good press. But in Philippine designer Kenneth Cobonpue, kennethcobopue.com, the material may have found its first great virtuoso. The 37-year-old alumnus of New York City's Pratt Institute has been garnering kudos most recently a 2005 Design
The skin of the lowly vine is used as a weaving material and for binding (some fastening techniques are borrowed from traditional boat building), while rattan's surprisingly sturdy core forms the structure. "Each piece I design has a character and soul born from the inspiration and design process," says Cobonpue, adding that his ideas come mostly from the natural richness of Cebu. One exception is his award-winning Lolah chair, which Cobonpue says was inspired by a softly dented can of Coke. Talk about turning base metals into gold.