Italian roaster illy has teamed up with Chinese artist Liu Wei as part of its ongoing attempt to chip away at Starbucks’ lead in China’s coffee market, with high hopes that coffee’s meteoric climb will continue in the country.
For the collaboration, Liu Wei has designed special editions of cans and cups as part of the company’s Art Collection series. This is the third time the brand has teamed up with the artist, after a previous collaboration in 2011 for Galleria illy London and in 2012 for Galleria illy in Beijing.
This project, as well as the 2012 introduction of Galleria illy to Beijing, is part of the company’s upmarket brand positioning, which aims to set illy apart from other international coffee chains crowding into China by providing a social center for cultural connoisseurs. To support this strategy, Galleria illy, which is located in several cities across the world, hosts exhibitions, talks, and performances by artists, writers, and cultural curators. In addition, illy’s arts and culture publication, illywords, has featured work by Chinese artists from Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA).
According to Liu Wei, the decorations on the cups, saucers and tins are part of a series from the work “The Purple Air”, which shows “the ongoing urbanization process and the structural changes which take place in contemporary urban areas.” Look below for more photos from the collaboration: