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History

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History

In 1990s, illy decided it had produced really perfect coffee product which no longer needed improvement. ”So it was right time to see what surrounds the coffee”, said Carlo Bach, illy’s Art director. The first thing to conquer was cup design, which Ernesto Illy, son of Francesco Illy,handed to Italian designer Matteo Thun.

‘He provided me with very long, very technical brief’, Thun says, recalling the meticulous details necessary to keep beverage between 78 and 82 degree Celcuis, but the top rim cool for the mouth. The technical brief was provided on seventy pages, with request to extract from this knowledge a shape for illy cup.’Precise indications were given regarding the volume, diameter quality of the rim on which one’s lip rested, and the special “bowl” of the lower part that retains heat’.  Abviously Francesco Illy had idea in his head for several years, without realizing it (10 years before this meeting Francesco illy started to collect espresso coffee cups from almost every important porcelain companies). This is why the new illy cup was not created by general designing idea, but was based on very scientific know-how of illy.

sketch 1

“I will never forget that meeting, because the energy that flowed forth was incredible: Matteo was thrilled with my concept of the senses, and I was so fascinated with his work’ Franceso Illy wrote. ‘When with Francesco illy, I first was whe simple and compact plaster cast of the cup on that saucer – which also serves as a pedestal – I thought that the red logo would not be necessary for this icon.’ – Matteo Thun lately wrote. The form of the cup was accepted immediately, but missing logo creates long debate of illy family. At the same time Francisco illy and Matteo Thun realized that espresso cup could be much more visible if they were colorful or painted.

illy art regesto

‘We needed something strong, free from the everyday. ‘ wrote Francesco Illy,’Something so totally unaffected by time as to seem alsmost eternal. We needed art. But where do you get it, art, if you know hardly any important artists? Yes, I knew Paolo Cervo, in my opinion a very good painter… and Mino Fusco, sculptor.. ans a s matter of oact I took photographs… and Matteo was a famous architect… But then not only art , but also crafts could work… so why not Luca Missonim who makes very beautiful fabrics,,, and Muairizio Cargnelli, who is very food graphic artist….’ And the first set of illy collection “Arts and Crafts” was officially born!

I think illy did not realize what genius idea it was, until they started to get information that illy cups are constantly stolen from the bars and huge number of request to sell this cup started to arrive.

Created by Matteo Thun in 1992, the cup has been interpreted with decorations by internationally renowned artists. A decade of works by Sandro Chia, Marina Abramovic, An Du, Luca Trazzi, Francis Ford Coppola, Nam June Palk, Mario Giacomelli, James Rosenquist, David Byrne and many others are collected in this small volume. They all have expressed their creativity on the illy cup with its apparently simple, yet ingenious shape, bringing a lot of joy for coffee lovers and collectors like me.

Friendship and partnership of Matteo Thun with illy continues till today.  Recently in 2013, Matheo Thun redesigned illy Bar Accessories (previous version was also designed by him).

 

web Illy 2013 FotoGruppoMaterialiThun LR

 

Sources:

  • Illy Collection a decade of artist cups by illycafe , Book by CHARTA 
  • Matteo Thun archives
 

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