Our passion for all that is beautiful and well made, our keen interest in the world of contemporary art, and the exceptional quality of our blend inspired us to combine the sensory pleasure of coffee with the aesthetic joys of art. As our canvas, we chose a simple, everyday object: the coffee cup.
This was the beginning of the illy Art Collections, miniature works of art in the form of signed and numbered cups, transforming the act of sipping an espresso into an experience that fully engages the senses and the mind.
In 2006, Ai Weiwei covered ancient Neolithic vases in a layer of industrial paint, erasing their historic value through a process of appropriation. The artwork is a commentary on the destruction of ancient Chinese culture that was started by Mao. Our collection is an homage to the artist’s “Coloured Vases”.
What may appear to be simple geometric shapes on the saucer are transformed when reflected on the cup itself, revealing graphs moving in an upwards trend. Sagmeister invites us to approach reality with the right perspective, looking at it from a long-term view. In fact, if we look at the data, we can see that humanity has never been as well off as we are today.
52nd Barcolana Regatta The spirit of the regatta and the pure joy of sailing are personified in a heroic female figure, designed by the cartoonist Mattotti for the 52nd edition of the Barcolana race. The painting pays tribute to the world of sailing and to the role of women in this sport.
The collective known as Slavs & Tatars combines characters from Arabic, Hebrew and Cyrillic to produce “qaf”, the sound of the first letter of the word “coffee” in the Arabian peninsula and East Africa. The result is an intercultural homage to the world’s most widely consumed beverage.
Combining different media is like resting your coffee cup on an unmatched saucer, as Ulrike Müller often does with crockery picked up at flea markets. In this design, the artist combines digital and hand-drawn elements, adapting each to the other.
The simpler the elements, the more stories they can be used to tell. Ad Minoliti takes inspiration from the Memphis group, playing around with geometry and colours to form a patchwork puzzle of figures that we can all weave into different tales, harnessing the power of our own creativity.
A sketchbook is a miniature capsule containing the small yet significant aspects of everyday life, before the artist binds them all together with an invisible thread. Cameron Jamie fills his sketchbook while sipping on a coffee and invites us to appreciate the beauty of the simplest things, like a flower.
Soft, simple shapes and bright colours: Olimpia Zagnoli’s art pays homage to futurism and the Beatles in equal measure, bringing six female figures to life in the collection for illy. These six women who differ in appearance and character raise their voices together in a conversation about the future, communicating in the language of colours.
A coffee break is an opportunity for communication and socialising. Matteo Attruia provides a tool – or rather, two: the coffee cup and the saucer – to send a short yet meaningful message, imbuing the moment with special significance.
The eyes are the only internal organs visible from the outside, and each iris has its own utterly unique pattern. With this collection, Marc Quinn invites us to reflect on the essence of our own humanity and authenticity, which are reflected in the cup.
How many stories can be born out of a single coffee stain? These coffee cups are not the fruit of a structured project, but an exercise in which Max Petrone applied the line-drawing style of underground comics to simple coffee stains, giving rise to six different tales.
Maurizio Galimberti offers us a glimpse of his adventures wandering through the urban landscapes of six Italian cities, through the lens of his Polaroid camera. Trieste, Venice, Rome, Pisa, Florence and Milan are represented by architectural details that reveal the full extent of their majesty.
A porcelain canvas, a limit to work within, a fabric flowing freely. Ron Arad has brought the sinuous delicacy of silk to his cups and saucers, triggering a spontaneous interaction between the objects. The result is a design on the border between realism and the abstract, enveloping each cup in its embrace.
Miniature works of art so good you can almost taste them: Emilio Pucci’s coffee cups celebrate the cities of Rome, Paris, New York and Milan through six hand-drawn prints, in the fashion house’s unmistakable style. Each one captures the architecture, skyline, and unique charms of the city it depicts.
Dorfles revived the medium of egg tempera – used by master artists in the 1400s – to create these designs inspired by his own work from the 1930s. There is no key with which to interpret them and no message: for this multi-talented critic and painter, art must speak for itself through its forms and its colours.