illy (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) officially launch their collaboration with Robert Wilson, who has shaped the latest illy Art Collection with numbered and signed coffee cups. 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 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 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.
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 illy caffe 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 Abramovic, 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. Once they sell out, the items are not reproduced. (The illy Art Collection, signed, limited and numbered, is on sale all over the world, in cafes, stores that distribute illy products and at www.illy.com.)
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 cafes. 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. illycaffe 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.