Have Coffee with Daniel Buren, Latest Artist to Collaborate with Illy on Covetable Cups

A view of Monumenta 2012 at the Grand Palais in Paris. (Photo: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier)

Just when you thought that illy couldn’t out-dazzle its collaboration with Anish Kapoor, the espresso purveyor has teamed with Daniel Buren. The latest addition to illy’s “Artist Cups” series was created in conjunction with Buren’s Monumenta installation, “Excentrique(s),” which recently turned the Grand Palais into a kind of rainbow-kaleidoscope. Tasked with creating a site-specific work for the 14,500-square-foot nave of the Paris building (and following in the footsteps of previous Monumenta artists including Richard Serra and Christian Boltanski), the French artist was initially stumped. “The breakthrough came when I finally realized that this iron and glass architecture was based on the circle and the main tool used to design the building was a compass,” said Buren in an interview with Marc Sanchez, artistic director of Monumenta. “The most important thing for me was the confrontation between a device placed quite low down—a sort of ceiling made of hundreds of clear, colored circles—and the great height of the nave of the Grand Palais. I expected this extreme tension to emphasise not the hugeness of the building but its volume, left as empty as possible. As if to give shape to the air circulating in it.” The exhibition closed last month, but the colorful circles live on as saucers in illy’s Daniel Buren espresso cups. The beautifully packaged set of four, now available in illy’s online store, combines the Monumenta circles’ blue, yellow, orange, and green (chosen because they were the only available hues for colored film that was stretched over specially made circular steel frames) with Buren’s signature stripes, in black and white.