With some 100 examples designed by more than 70 of the world’s great contemporary artists, the illy Art Collection of ceramic cups has delighted people passionate about art, coffee (and really, anything beautiful) since 1992.
The collection’s enduring appeal gave rise to an extension of the concept to another medium: illy’s signature, silver can. In 2006, illy made great art accessible through yet another every day object, inviting artists to create signed, original designs on its metallic, 250-gram cans.
The can’s circular shape has inspired intriguing concepts exploring infinite possibilities. Contributors include James Rosenquist, Michael Lin, Michelangelo Pistoletto Cittadellarte, Tobias Rehberger, and the renowned social photographer Sebastião Salgado, whose multi-year, multi-nation project for illy chronicling the origins and peoples of coffee, In Principio (“In the Beginning”), has earned wide acclaim.
To do full justice to each original work, required commercial language (e.g. weight, source country, etc.) is printed on transparent film that is easily removed, revealing each designer’s vision as intended, to full effect.
Some consider standard illy cans works of art on their own. There is beauty in their science: the pressurization that preserves coffee freshness, forming a natural barrier that maintains critical aromas and enhances taste. There is beauty in each can’s full recyclability. Ultimate beauty, of course, resides inside, in the delightfully rich, balanced taste of the illy blend.