This new illy Art Collection is part of illy sustainArt, a project aimed at promoting contemporary art and creative talent in coffee-growing countries in which illy has been working for years. In the firm belief that ethics, culture and beauty are indispensable sources of energy for our planet, and provide the fuel needed to guarantee a fair, sustainable future for the next generations, illy sustainArt encourages and promotes the work of artists from emerging nations. Esteban Piedra León, Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa, Elias Sime and Adan Vallecillo were the designers chosen to create a unique limited-edition collection based on the important theme of EXPO 2015: Nourishing the planet, Energy for life.


A web of scenarios and connections proliferates over the white porcelain surface. The concept of territory is a recurring theme in the work of young artist Esteban Piedra León, a painter by training who now primarily produces installations and objects. His work concentrates on the relationship between the peculiarities of an area and the way people interact with the space and elements around them.
For illy Art Collection, Esteban designed an espresso cup, an object whose very function expresses an intrinsic strength. As the Costa Rican artist himself says “the experience of drinking coffee can take you to a space that is open to thought - a mental landscape.”



A large, red and yellow blazing crater marks a ragged zero shape on the perfect circle of the saucer, like a tiny, pulsating vortex in the centre of the earth, an eruption that emits the cup like a piece of lava coloured by a thousand mineral shades. Pure energy that takes on a two-legged form as if it could get up and walk away.
The works of Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa are like stories told by the young artist from Guatemala so his audience can interpret and complete them.
His artistic vision is inspired by his homeland, its socio-political context, and the almost surreal use of colour that pervades all his art.



The design by Elias Sime consists of highly-charged, brilliant colours contrasting with darker geometric backgrounds featuring parts of a circuit board. The cup is decorated with coffee cherries and goats - one of the symbolic animals often found in Elias’ work, which in this case evokes the origins of coffee. According to legend it was Kaldi the shepherd who discovered the special allure of the coffee plant after seeing his goats eating the berries. The relationship between nature and technology is a key element of this artist’s work, which is the result of a profound reflection on the present day, and here represents the conflict between traditional life and the rapid evolution of society in his homeland. For Elias, who is used to working on large-scale works, trying his hand on the small surface of an espresso cup was a challenge.


Adan Vallecillo’s design for illy Art Collection concentrated on rounded forms with clean lines and full, well-defined colours that stand out against the immaculate porcelain surface.
The design by this young artist from Honduras is inspired by colourPANTONE shades and the variations seen in the fruit of the coffee plant - and features hallmarks of his work such as well-ordered volumes with ambiguous meanings.
Created with the enthusiasm of adding beauty to the coffee-drinking ritual, this design contrasts the evolution of life with the ripening of coffee, from the cherry to the bean. Coffee is seen as a vibrant natural element that can offer personal and social well-being thanks to sustainable growing techniques.