New Illy limited-edition collection by Liu Wei celebrates modern city-inspired abstractionism

Illy coffee extends its art collection of cups and tins with a new addition designed by the Chinese artist Liu Wei. The Illy Art Cup 2013 set is a tribute to modern abstract art and a celebration of an urban vibe, translated through lines and colours. The visual language of the coffee set stems from the artist’s The Purple Air oil paintings, depicting stylized skyscraper cityscapes.

Photo: illy x Liu Wei set of cups (click to enlarge),

Due to its abstractionist style, the latest illy cup and saucer look like a single piece, featuring straight and curved lines of various weight and colors. The pattern resembles a stylized metropolitan landscape splashed onto the ceramics, where the lines symbolize high-pitched sounds of a big city, just like in the original artwork by Liu Wei. The limited-edition collection of six cups with matching saucers is available in both espresso and cappuccino sizes—each of the sets is individually signed and numbered.

Photo: illy x Liu Wei set of cups (click to enlarge),

The metropolitan landscape design for the tin is slightly different. Its graphics is abstract as well, however, the colour intensity is amplified: the red, black, azure and cyan colors dominate here. Along with the straight lines, the artist uses circles (one inside another, each of different colour), which look like the sun before it goes down in a busy city. The new design also emphasizes the circular shape of the illy coffee tin as well as its perfectly vertical walls.

Photo: illy x Liu Wei can,

Liu Wei, who focuces on cultural, social and political motives in his art, has turned to everyday objects and natural materials for his recent works—ceramics is one of the field he is currently pursuing. The artist tends to express his ideas using simple materials in an attempt “to seek the hidden value they contain.

It’s not the first time illy collaborates with Liu Wei, a forty-one-year-old artist who graduated from the Hangzhou Academy of Fine Art in 1996. The coffee brand worked with Wei at the Galleria illy London in 2011, and also reconnected with him at the Galleria illy in Beijing last year.