Robert Wilson contributes to the new illy Art Collection

The American artist shapes The Watermill Center, the new illy Art Collection born from a universe of designs, texts and architecture, dedicated to the fascinating world of coffee

Milan, September 2014
– Robert Wilson is the artist who has shaped the latest illy Art Collection, a numbered and signed edition of coffee cups produced by illy.  Inspiration for the collection comes from the Watermill Center, a laboratory for the arts and humanistic sciences founded by Robert Wilson in 1992. The Watermill Center welcomes students and professionals from the performing arts in a multidisciplinary atmosphere dedicated to shared creativity. The Watermill Center fosters research in the arts of the stage, providing young and emerging artists with a unique environment for creation and exploration in theater and all its related art forms, breaking with traditional forms of representation and developing democratic and cross-cultural approaches. Christopher Knowles, Hope Esser, Willie Filkowski, Clo’e Floirat and Gintare Minelgaite are the artists who have collaborated with Robert Wilson to produce the new illy Art Collection. They were selected from among all those who participated in the Watermill Center’s annual International Summer Program, a laboratory for nearly 100 artists with at least 30 different nationalities.

The Watermill Center -- the works it contains, its architecture and the very materials of which it is constructed – provides the creative catalyst for this illy Art Collection.  Beyond the unmistakable Wilson “ok,” is the work of Clo’e Floirat and Gintare Minelgaite, inspired by the architecture of the Center. Willie Filkowski has worked using a technique usually applied to architectural elements (especially surfaces and stone). Hope Esser has used the red wolf, a reference that recurs in the work of Robert Wilson at the Center.

These elements modernize cups and saucers, transforming the coffee ritual into a creatively original taste experience.

Recommended packaging and prices:

•             Espresso cups – set of six: €99; set of two: €33

•             Cappuccino cups – set of six:  €129; set of two: €43

•             2 Espresso cups with 250g canister: €40

•             2 Cappuccino cups with 250g canister: €50 

•             2 Mugs €38

•             2 Mugs 250g canister: €45

The new illy Art Collection is on sale at the best illy cafés, at illypoints and on-line at On top of the link, from 2 - 7 September you can participate in the survey: “Choose the next illy Art Collection special pack” that will determine which pair of designs will decorate the next two cups in the collection.

Robert Wilson also has decorated coffee canisters for home use that, since 2006, have been designed by internationally known masters to accompany coffee cups in the illy artists’ collection. The new decorations are perfectly suited to the circular and vertical dimensions of the illy coffee can. Once the transparent film with commercial information is removed, the coffee can becomes a collector’s item.

For the press kit and images, please click here

The illy Art Collection, a series of coffee cups by artists that the Trieste-based company has produced since 1992, is the clearest expression of the illycaffé connection to contemporary art. Some of the most prominent contemporary masters on the international art scene, along with emerging young talents, have transformed the everyday coffee cup – in this case the white porcelain lily cup introduced by the architect and designer Matteo Thun – into a cult object. From Michelangelo Pistoletto to Marina Abramović, Anish Kapoor to Daniel Buren, Robert Rauschenberg to Jeff Koons, Jan Fabre to James Rosenquist, Jannis Kounellis to Julian Schnabel, Louise Bourgeois to William Kentridge, more than 70 contemporary artists so far have contributed designs for the collection and formed close collaborative relationships with illy that develop along with their own artistic and cultural projects. The illy Art Collection, signed, limited and numbered, is on sale all over the world, in cafés, stores that distribute illy products and at Once they sell out, the items are not reproduced.

The loft where Robert Wilson lived – formerly the Open Theater – soon became a meeting point for artists, craftsmen, housewives, retirees, businessmen, intellectuals and an assortment of impoverished youth before transmuting into a factory-laboratory, the first nucleus of the Byrd Hoffman School of Byrds that he founded. Robert Wilson never had a formal education in theater arts, which, according to some, is why his work is so original.

illycaffè, with headquarters in Trieste, produces and markets a unique blend of espresso coffee and is the leading brand in the high-end segment of the coffee market. More than 6 million cups of illy espresso coffee are enjoyed every day. Sold in more than 140 countries around the world, illy is available in more than 100,000 of the world’s best restaurants and cafés. espressamente illy, the Italian-style coffee franchising chain, is present with 230 outlets in more than 30 countries to date. To grow and spread the culture of coffee, the company has established Coffee University, a center of excellence that offers full training in all aspects of coffee theory and practice to growers, baristas and coffee lovers. Globally, the company employs around 1,050 people and, in 2013, recorded consolidated sales of € 373.9 million. illycaffé buys green coffee directly from growers of the best Arabica through partnerships based on sustainable development. Working with the best growers in the world – in Brazil, Central America, India, Africa and China – the Trieste-based company develops long-term relationships that transfer know-how and technology to growers while paying above the market rate for their production.

For more information illycaffè – Anna Adriani/Christine Pascolo,  Tel. +39/040/389.0111 – Fax +39/040/389.0490
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