For one of the most surprising collections shown at this year’s Salone del Mobile, Filipino designer Kenneth Cobonpue borrowed inspiration from a galaxy far, far away.
Seeing a line of furniture and lighting inspired by Star Wars and created in collaboration with Disney (which owns the movie-based brand) probably wasn’t what most visitors expected at Fiera Milano, but there it was in Hall 10, grabbing the eye of every undercover sci fi nerd at the show.
Know for his unexpected woven works, Filipino designer Kenneth Cobonpue has applied his signature motifs to both rattan furniture and to more architectural designs such as a collection of massive playground structures. Despite the otherworldliness of the latter project, his style might not seem like an obvious match with retro-futurism of Star Wars, but really it should be no surprise that Cobonpue is a fan of the trilogy-of-trilogies – in hindsight he outed himself as a Star Warrior when he launched the Yoda chair in 2008. The iconic seat, which is available in a plethora of colours, is most familiar in a shade that could be associated with the tiny green Jedi the piece was named for.
For Milan Design Week, Cobonpue showed a number of his signature rattan works, but sectioned off a dedicated area to show his new Star Wars collection. Among the pieces is the Chewie Rocking Stool – a shaggy brown rocker bench wrapped in a fabric bandolier-style strip to evoke the world’s favourite Wookiee.
The Imperial Wings Easy Armchair is modelled after one of the most iconic vehicles in the Star Wars universe, the TIE fighter, and provide a trio of planes for Cobonpue to show off his signature woven patterns. Coordinating end tables will also be included in the line when it launches in North America this spring.
Despite its black-on-black-on-black palette, the Vader Easy Armchair is perhaps the most silly of this whimsical bunch, pairing a woven canopy with an upholstered seat elaborately stitched into the form of Darth Vader’s iconic mask. Perched atop a pedestal base, the chair incorporates a folding table and provides offers a “cozy space in which to have a cup of tea and plan your next scheme to conquer the Rebel Alliance.”
In contrast, the Sidious Armchair is downright creepy, and should probably come with a disclaimer warning that it may bring back childhood nightmares for anyone who saw the original trilogy as a kid. Emulating the evil Emperor, aka Darth Vader’s boss, the chair features the character’s trademark dark hood.
Most universally (or galactically) appealing are the Little Jedi Lamps. Made in pendant and floor versions, the lights feature a steel framework, with humanoid figures shaped by hand using salago fiber, a natural material native to the Phillipines. Each of the tiny Jedi Knights wields an LED lightsaber, which provides the light source.
Cobonpue also showed a series of complementary table top accessory prototypes, including Ewok figures and AT-ST Walker planters, which may become part of the official collection.