Italian roaster illycaffé has revealed a new illy Art Collection of cups, designed by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.
Illy’s newest collection is inspired by Ai’s 2006 exhibition ‘Coloured Vases’, in which he submerged Neolithic vases into industrial paint tins to reshape their appearance and function.
Ai uses his many professions from painter to human rights activist to take a familiar object and unsettle the viewers perception. He invites the viewer to explore their “position” and perspective of the world, even if it occurs only briefly, over a cup of coffee.
“I am very happy to be a part of the illy Art Collection. I think it is very important to give power to art and design while drinking good coffee, because it affects everybody’s life. We should enjoy it,” says Ai.
Ai joins the likes of other famous artists such as Marina Abramovic, Michelangelo Pistoletto, and Louis Bourgeois who all have produced work under illy’s Art Collection. Begun in 1992, the idea aims to create an experience that is both sensory and, in the mind, when drinking an espresso.
“The project with Ai Weiwei is an exceptional event and we have celebrated it with a particularly valuable and refined illy Art Collection,” says Massimiliano Pogliani, illycaffè CEO.
“From a great personality, that has had a huge impact on culture in recent years, speaking out about the complexity of contemporary society, often ironically, we get an optical illusion, a hidden beauty which becomes manifest if we learn to see without the misconception of using one single perspective only.”
Born in Beijing in 1957, Ai is known for his mixed medium use that pushes his audiences to re-examine society and its commonly held values.
“To us, this is what the illy Art Collection project is: art providing an insight through beauty, and Ai Weiwei’s artwork is new and brilliant evidence of this,” says Pogliani.
The collection by Ai Weiwei is available for purchase in the following formats:
• four espresso cups (decorated in gold, black, orange and green)
• four cappuccino cups (decorated in gold, black, orange and green)
• two espresso cups (decorated in gold and black)
• two cappuccino cups (decorated in gold and black)