‘Better data, better art’

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Monday, June 17, 2013


CONTRARY to what most believe, it takes more than an individual to make creative ideas work.

For Google’s global creative team planning head Dr. Joe Adam Fry, being creative and original is not enough. Logical minds are also important to make a creative idea sell.

Fry was one of the speakers at the Cebu Creative Industries Summit held Friday in observance of Cebu Business Month.

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Creativity, he said, combines originality with usefulness, divergent thinking with convergent thinking, and magic with purpose.

With new technology available, Fry said it is important to understand it and develop it for new thinking.

Business can take advantage of this by using technology to better understand their clients. As examples, he cited the case of entrepreneur Julie Deane, who reintroduced satchels back into fashion. She used the Internet to find a supplier of the old satchels she used to wear as a schoolgirl. Not finding any, she made her own and began selling them online.

She reached out to bloggers and learned from them that they also wanted different colors.

“Better data makes better art,” Fry told participants.

Can be taught

Fry said any business today should be going the extra mile to understand the wants of their customers. He acknowledged that there are individuals who are naturally more creative but he believes skills can be acquired with the right training.

Such was the case for Cebuano designer Kenneth Cobonpue, who had to go to great lengths to prove himself to the global furniture market.

At the same summit, Cobonpue admitted that he was not accepted into the fine arts program because he could not draw.

With his mother’s factory as his playground, Cobonpue tinkered with scrap rattan when he was a boy. He noticed that she was not particularly impressed when he showed her something he had copied. His mother, he said, encouraged him to be unique.

When he is asked where he gets inspiration, he admitted that it comes from the simplest things like a crushed soda can, a bowl of noodles, weeds, sheep, braided hair and fishing nets.

Though he has made a name for himself in the global space, Cobonpue admitted getting there was not easy. A good three years were spent earning nothing, as his designs were not the usual pieces that Filipino furniture manufacturers were known for.

He realized the need to show something that had not been done before and to showcase things that could only be done in the Philippines, using materials common in the country and weave patterns that only Filipinos could do.

Today, stores around the world fight for exclusive rights to sell his furniture. His pieces are in hotels, resorts, lounges and restaurants in countries like Greece, Mexico, Portugal, St. Bart’s and Dubai.

He has also dabbled in other forms of design such as in fashion, home accessories, a car made of bamboo and a tricycle which was given as a state gift to the Sultan of Brunei. He also designed the Ironman medals.

Cobonpue also joined two other designers in coming up with a plan to redesign the NAIA Terminal 1. Though the plans were stopped, Cobonpue said that should the government need them to redo it again, he was still willing to cooperate.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 18, 2013.

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