Every year, Illy comes out with a bunch of art cups. 3 in the espresso size, 1 (sometimes 2) in the cappuccino size, and then single cups, either in espresso or cappuccino.
For 2002, Illy brought out International Flight, by artist Norma J., in both a six cup espresso set and 2 cup cappuccino set. There is also a single cappuccino cup for $100!! limited uber edition.
Illy cups are some of the best designed espresso cups on the market, in my opinion. Art cups are even better (usually) quality control, but the IPA series of espresso and cappa cups for the International Flight series this year is a bit of a letdown. First, the finish on the cups is less than perfect (boo Illy). Second, where previous years had nice tight tolerances on the saucers (crisp lines and a perfect fit for the cups), the IPAs this year don't. Boo Illy. Third, while the espresso cups are still the best fitting ones, the cappa cups are a bit bulky for the fingers. This is why quality gets a 6 and usability is 8 (illy espresso gets a 10 from me).
And, frankly, I "just don't get it" with this Norma J artwork. 50s style appliances? Come on, give me a break. You're approaching "voice of fire" idiocy here, Illy (fyi, "Voice of Fire" is a 3 stripe gigantic piece of paper that the National Art Gallery of Canada bought for something around a million dollars or something a dozen years ago. It's three stripes of paint, for cripes sakes. That ISN'T ART!).
So why did I buy them? Well, I knew I could get low numbers (start of the offering), and I got a great deal on them, wholesale price. So I bought them. From afar they look fine, but up close, everyone else goes "I don't get it". Where the Alien cups in my collection are viewed, ooos and ahhhs are heard.
I ranked the cost vs. value high because most Illy cups are good returns on investment down the road. Esp. low numbered units.
These are purely an investment purchase, but I couldn't resist kind of "slandering" the "artist" by using the cappa cups at least a few times. And I did.