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illy "Gets It" again - thicker espresso cups by Mark Prince
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Discussions > Articles > Columnist... > illy "Gets It"...  
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billym
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Posted Fri Jan 30, 2004, 5:48am
Subject: Re: illy "Gets It" again - thicker espresso cups by Mark Prince
 

Illy "gets it", indeed! They also "get big $$$$$$$".

There are many commecial quality cups, high on aesthetics, relatively well finished, and from a heat transfer perspective, technically superior, for much less moolah. The "art" card which Mr. Prince plays is in my estimation overdone, and a buy-in to Illy marketting. It's the same as the amazing prices some folks pay for Illy coffees, again based on slick high end perception marketting. They certainly are "getting it"; and Mr. Prince makes a worthy contribution thereto.
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bish
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bish
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Posted Fri Jan 30, 2004, 7:36am
Subject: Re: illy "Gets It" again - thicker espresso cups by Mark Prince
 

billym Said:

Illy "gets it", indeed! They also "get big $$$$$$$".

There are many commecial quality cups, high on aesthetics, relatively well finished, and from a heat transfer perspective, technically superior, for much less moolah. The "art" card which Mr. Prince plays is in my estimation overdone, and a buy-in to Illy marketting. It's the same as the amazing prices some folks pay for Illy coffees, again based on slick high end perception marketting. They certainly are "getting it"; and Mr. Prince makes a worthy contribution thereto.

Posted January 30, 2004 link

Sooo... you don't believe in art for art's sake or the combination of form and function?  There is an argument for all things to be built in a solid, reliable, no-frills manner.... a utilitarian approach to everything.  A cup is a cup is a cup, and it should never pretend to have any function other than to hold liquids?  Any enhancements should only be to improve the function (better heat retention etc)?  If we appreciate art, design, style or whatever you want to call it, what's wrong with combining this with a useful function?  There will always be a small amount of hype regarding anything that can be classed as "contemporary collectable", but if I'm willing to pay a three figure sum for a picture or "object d'art" that serves no purpose whatsoever apart from looking good, then why not do it for something that I can use and incorporate into my everyday life?

I don't think Mark talking-up or overdoing the whole Illy collectable thing... he likes them and has a platform to express his enthusiasm (as we all do here).

Let's put this in perspective... I'd rather pay a hundred buck for a set of Illy cups than for a Beany Baby... now there we can talk about manufactured hype :)

Cheers
Peter (who still holds his Aliens by both ears)
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billym
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Posted Fri Jan 30, 2004, 8:42am
Subject: Re: illy "Gets It" again - thicker espresso cups by Mark Prince
 

Objets d'art, oui! Commercial corporate promo cups as art at  $$$$$$, ehhhhhhhh!
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dalton
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Posted Fri Jan 30, 2004, 8:55am
Subject: Re: illy "Gets It" again - thicker espresso cups by Mark Prince
 

Don't forget that many of the artists that do the designs for the Illy art cups are well known and respected.  Add to that that many of the cups are really beautiful.  Rosenquist just had a retrospective at the Guggenheim, where they were selling (you guessed it!) the new "Coffee Flowers Ideas" Rosenquist mugs.  Where does commercial promotion end and art begin?  Who's to say?

Dalton

 
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Fred_Astaire
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Posted Fri Jan 30, 2004, 9:22am
Subject: Re: illy "Gets It" again - thicker espresso cups by Mark Prince
 

For those who scoff at "commercial" art, consider that Bach, Michelangelo and Frank Lloyd Wright (to name only a few biggies), were all commercial artists.  The list goes on.  When artists can make a living with their art, we, the consumers, benefit.
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billym
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Posted Fri Jan 30, 2004, 10:57am
Subject: Re: illy "Gets It" again - thicker espresso cups by Mark Prince
 

Michaelangelo in the same breath as Illy cups?  WOW!

Illy is not a benefactor.The Medici's who funded Michi were the preeminent great citizens and patrons in their society.

Illy are not. Illy is lining its jeans big time and it would be of interest to know how much of the proceeds actually end up in the artiste's pockets.

I don't have a problema with the profit motive. It just seems that Mr. Prince seems to be slavering a might much on their behalf. And some of you good folks out there can't get your arms around the fact that many corporations, (and Illy are big shooters), simply give away promotions at minimal cost to engender customer goodwill.

That they get all this freebee exposure through reviews etc.and make $$$$$, on marginally, in many cases, if at all, better products, and earning the respect of some, as patrons of the arts,  attests to their business smarts and skill at reading and playing the marketplace and their professional friends.
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bish
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bish
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Posted Fri Jan 30, 2004, 11:44am
Subject: Re: illy "Gets It" again - thicker espresso cups by Mark Prince
 

Bottom line...  I like them.  I'm willing to pay a premium for them.  In general, I'm willing to pay a premium for anything that appeals to me more than the cheaper alternative.  My judgement call, my choice.  I spent lots more than I need have to get the Giotto Premium... one of the reasons was the way it looked and my pride of ownership.  Corporate and commercial art is still art whether it's funded by the profit motive or altruism.  Illy makes a profit... as they are entitled to do.  They produce a product that I want to own, and they set the price at a level where I can become an owner.  I fully realise that I'm paying a lot for an espresso cup... but it isn't just an espresso cup... and that's the point.

There are many things in life that benefit from being designed to appeal to senses other than the purely practical ones.  I can be as practical and utilitarian as anyone... I doubt that I'd want leather trim, chrome details, walnut dashboard, alloy wheels etc on a tractor...

Cheers
Peter
(who does have totally useless limited-edition prints hanging on the wall)
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Fred_Astaire
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Posted Fri Jan 30, 2004, 12:00pm
Subject: Re: illy "Gets It" again - thicker espresso cups by Mark Prince
 

Yea, the Medicis were good ol' boys.  No one could dispute that.   I bet they had some pretty fancy coffee cups too.  In fact, some may be on display today in Florence, IN A MUSEUM.
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MarkPrince
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Posted Fri Jan 30, 2004, 1:50pm
Subject: Re: illy "Gets It" again - thicker espresso cups by Mark Prince
 

billym Said:

I don't have a problema with the profit motive. It just seems that Mr. Prince seems to be slavering a might much on their behalf. And some of you good folks out there can't get your arms around the fact that many corporations, (and Illy are big shooters), simply give away promotions at minimal cost to engender customer goodwill.

Posted January 30, 2004 link

Ahhh, the oft-read conspiracy theory. "He says good things about them, he must be paid off. There's back room shinanigans going on!"

How to respond... how to respond.... Well, even though you loosely vieled a comment that questions my objectivity or ethics, I'll take the high road.

Fact: Illy cups are art on a unique canvas. Art by famous as well as upcoming artists. They are limited edition art reprints that are stamp signed and individually numbered. This exists in the art world in other forms - you know, the limited edition prints by famous photographers or painters? But here's a shocker for you - the illy cup "canvas" usually costs substantially less than most short-run (less than 5,000 copies) art prints by the same artists who grace both photography prints and illy cups.  Take for example the Rosenquist mugs - $25 per mug, individually numbered, limited edition. Rosenquists limited edition prints go for much more than that.

Opinion: Espresso *is* art. At least I see it that way. Given that it is art, part of the experience is the frame you pour your art into. Others may argue "any old cup will do". I have more respect for the beverage than that.

Opinion: the Illy cup is, weight issue aside, probably the most aesthetically perfect espresso cup designed. I should know (or should be able to develop a cognitent opinion on the subject). I own over 450 (at last count) uniquely identifiable espresso cups from every major porcelain manufacturer of espresso cups the world over.

Fact: I have received free* Illy cup sets from Illy. Two sets in fact - one was a Christmas Gift they send out every year to hundreds of people in the industry, your choice of several different cups, or cans of illy coffee (I chose a cup). This was given to me AFTER the current story was published on CG. The second gift was a set of preproduction Illy Nudes, and this was given to me because I specifically asked them for a set when I broke my last Bodum Passione clear glass espresso cup, and needed a clear espresso cup for photography purposes. I asked if, once the Nudes became available, if arrangements could be made for me to buy a set from Canada, since their IllyUSA site doesn't normally allow orders outside the US. At the time, Nudes were still not available, and they offered to send me some used prepro-cups to use. I accepted.

*I have received many more illy cup sets that I have not paid for, but I did "work" for - not from Illy, but from a couple of Illy cup resellers. Many of the banner ads you see on CG were designed by me, and for several of them, I traded design for cups. So they weren't free

FACT: Regardless of the Nudes or the Christmas cup (which I picked and recieved after the start of January), Illy does not influence anything I write or say about them because of any paybacks, gifts, or back room shinanigans. Illy influences what I write about them by their deeds and actions in the science of espresso, and the publication of said information.

The fact is, I respect the company a lot. Putting aside their pods or the 6 month+ expiry date on their consumer cans, Illy is *good* for espresso. No other company spends more on scientific research for espresso than Illy does. No other company makes *public* as much scientific data about espresso and coffee. Illy is the only Italian company I know of that not only talks about the importance of tamping, but proves it with scientific study.  I respect the good Dr., and I respect Andrea; in the world of coffee, these guys are in my top five most respected individuals, easy.

Fact: Illy's involvement in the world of art is not limited to charging big $$$ for their cups. In Italy, Europe and even in the US and other parts of the world, they are sponsors of of major art expositions and are especially involved in "new artist" ventures. In fact, many of the ultra-limited cup sets are often *only* available at these artist events, gallery openings, etc etc. You really should do your research before you make a comment like: "Illy is not a benefactor.The Medici's who funded Michi were the preeminent great citizens and patrons in their society. Illy are not. Illy is lining its jeans big time and it would be of interest to know how much of the proceeds actually end up in the artiste's pockets."

Fact: while you may want to hint at some kind of collusion or monetary/gift influence at what I write about Illy, you would be wrong. I would suggest you pick up Espresso: The Chemistry of Quality sometime and become enlightened. :)

Oh, and maybe do up a bit more reading on the Medicis. :)

Mark

 
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billym
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Joined: 9 Dec 2003
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Expertise: I love coffee

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Posted Fri Jan 30, 2004, 5:00pm
Subject: Re: illy "Gets It" again - thicker espresso cups by Mark Prince
 

A response of substance! The "vieled"(sic) implications are based in the respondents sensitivities and his obvious high regard for Illy. Our interests are elsewhere than impugning a highly respected and worthy individual who has consistently contributed to this site.

The fundamental issue, that of the need for a benefactor, a corporate robusto, who commissions an artist, and then transforms and distributes the art, (vs e.g. an artiste's litho limited edition, which the artiste produces and controls), for $$$$$, is still, after Mr. Prince's excellent discourse, a question mark, as is the artistes participation in the $$$$$.

True art  benefaction and patronage is to the benefit of Everyman and the artiste. High $$$$$ cup editions, whose affordability for everyday coffee "artists"( or geeks as would be called), is elitism,pure and simple and such promulgation, by a giant in the coffee business, for profit,  is......(you fill in the rest) .
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