The new illy Art Collection is inspired by Watermill Center, an interdisciplinary space created by Robert Wilson to provide inspiration for an international community of artists.
The Watermill Center illy Art Collection is the result of the workshop held in 2013 at the International Summer Program, attended by almost 100 artists from 30 different countries. The espresso cup collection includes a design by Robert Wilson plus 5 other designs—by Christopher Knowles, Hope Esser, Willie Filkowski, Clo’e Floirat and Gintare Minelgaite—which were selected from among the entries.


Today, Robert Wilson is one of the most important and celebrated exponents of the visual arts and theater.

His theatrical work combines artistic genres such as dance, music, prose, sculpture and light.

His works have a powerful aesthetic presence and an intense emotional content.


Christopher Knowles began his artistic career in the 1970s. In 1976 he helped to write the lyrics for the opera Einstein on the Beach, composed by Philippe Glass and directed by Robert Wilson. Knowles’ works have been displayed at many international venues. Some of his pieces are part of permanent collections at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Brooklyn Museum and the Boymansvan Beuningen in Rotterdam. The Texan artist’s contribution to the illy Art Collection was inspired by one of his previous works, which is part of the large art collection at the Watermill Center. Knowles is currently on a world tour with his performance “The Sundance Kid is Beautiful”.


Hope Esser is a multidisciplinary artist who works with performance, video and sculpture. After graduating from the Oberlin College in Ohio, she gained a Master’s in Fine Arts at the Chicago School of Art Institute. Her work has been presented at the NARS Foundation in Brooklyn, New York, the Chicago Arts Club, the Grace Exhibition Space in New York, DEfibrillator in Chicago, and the Charlotte Street Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri. During her time at the Watermill Center, Hope studied the works of art displayed at the Institute, and also attended workshops. This stimulating and creative environment provided the inspiration for her collection, which was inspired by several of Wilson’s pieces.


Willie Filkowski is a young American artist and writer, who studies at the University of Michigan. From the Watermill Center he brings us blueberries, the white sky and the large open spaces in which to work. He also tells of the time spent with Wilson and the other “geniuses” during his stay there, when the artists would have dinner together and discuss the experiences of their working day. Willie’s design for the Watermill Center illy Art Collection was inspired by the environment at the center, and by its wallcoverings. Willie admits to being a great fan of coffee “Without coffee, there are only non-days and non-nights. Without coffee there is no creativity”.



Clo’e Floirat divides her time between France and New York, working as an artist and art critic. After studying design at the Ecole Supérieure d'Art et de Design in Reims, and at the Design Accademy in Eindhoven, she spent five years living in Berlin. She studies art criticism in London and currently her works combine art and writing with a critical approach known as “drawing Crit’writing”. Her interpretation of the Watermill Center translates into a plan of the building, which adorns the surface of the espresso cup. The inspiration for this work came from Clo’e’s impression of the center when she first visited it years ago: “The grass, the gardens, the facade, the windows, trees and light – it was all part of an equation of lines that created a space”.


Gintare Minelgaite is a multifaceted artist. A theatre director, artist and graphic designer, during his career he has managed several large communications projects. He is also an enthusiast of photography, typography, printing and bookbinding, with a keen interest in cultural and fashion trends.His design for the Watermill Center series of the illy Art Collection is based on a meditation about the space at the center, which in Gintare’s opinion can influence his mood and actions. To create the design, the artist focused on the outdoor areas and the first sensations they create in the visitor.