Furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue is well-known for his unusual, handmade and eco-aware designs, many of which are carried by South African interiors store, Weylandts. Last month he was in South Africa, where he chatted to our deputy editor, Lauren Shantall, about his design ethos and future projects:
Why do you think your designs have proved so popular here?
The climate is really suitable for my designs and although I have only been to very few homes here, the aesthetic is very similar to my own.
Would you ever consider dveveloping any products here in South Africa? Especially as we have such a strong weaving tradition of our own…?
I have some South African telephone wire baskets – which I bought in Paris and I find them really beautiful, and really intricate. I was surprised by the similarities with my own work, which is also complex with an incredible amount of work put into it.
What’s the secret of your success?
If you look at China, it’s a factory, with very few individual designer names. So 10 years ago I decided to change that and sell my designs under my own name. I have had a lot of offers to make generic Asian products but I stuck to my belief that a designer should be recognised for his work.
This is my first visit to South Africa, so I am really here to get inspired and share my philosophy. I’ve worked with Weylandts for a long time now and it’s an eye-opener to see the store and the city. It’s really impressive – such an incredible country!
Read the rest of this interview with Kenneth Cobonpue in our Celebrate Issue, coming onto a shelf near you on 29 October.