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illy Coffee Room: a polysensory journey to discover coffee

On the occasion of the Milan Design Week, illycaffè is celebrating and sharing the heritage of its coffee culture-based knowledge acquired over its eighty-year plus history.

At its illyartlab space in the Triennale building, visitors are invited from 12nd of April to add to their knowledge and experience of coffee in the “illy Coffee Room: a polysensory journey to discover coffee”. Staged in partnership with the Studio Azzurro creative collective, the event features a teaching module, an experiential module and then a final guided tasting session.

Nine art installations located around the exhibition area evoke the shape of a coffee bean. Each of these sculptures features a video monitor hidden from spectators’ direct view by closing doors.

The sculptures recall a world and a reality, evoking the poetics, perceptions and imagination of the far-off lands where coffee is grown: Brazil, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Colombia, India, Costa Rica, Tanzania, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

As a visitor approaches, a sensor within each sculpture picks up their presence and slowly opens motorized doors behind which a monitor is concealed. With a rapid dissolve, the device changes from its waiting state video – flashes of coloured light that may be glimpsed through the cracks of the closed doors – to a video clip whose images and sounds evoke the place to which the bean/sculpture refers.

Each film is a brief story packed with references to the growing, harvesting and processing of coffee; each film invariably ends with the same image it started with, before the doors slowly close shut again.

Visitors have the chance to mark down how much they enjoyed the experience on a travel postcard-format questionnaire they are handed on their way in to the venue.

After experiencing all nine of the videos and marking down their preferences, visitors can hand in their card to a specialist for their impressions to be translated into a unique cup of coffee made by “Personal Blend”, a groundbreaking concept that creates a truly personal blend of coffee based on an individual’s tastes and preferences.

“illy Coffee Room” will be open to public from 12 April to 10 July 2016.

Studio Azzurro is an artistic research group founded in Milan by Fabio Cirifino (photography), Paolo Rosa (visual arts and cinema), and Leonardo Sangiorgi (graphics and animation).

Between 1995 and 2011, interactive systems expert Stefano Roveda was also part of the group. For more than thirty years now, the Studio has been exploring the poetic and expressive possibilities of multimedia, which has had such a strong impact on the relationships and models of modern-day networked life.

Following practices inspired by relational aesthetics, all the while maintaining a close focus on the social consequences of actions and artistic work, the Studio has designed and staged video environments, sense-led environments, theatrical shows and films.

As well as developing experimental works, the group has specialized in learning-based experiences at museums and exhibition design.

Always pushing the boundaries, the Group has built a communications context that enables meaningful, proactive spectator participation within a narrative framework, inspired by hypertextuality and a dialogue between real and virtual elements.

Studio Azzurro retains a unique soul, albeit contained in different bodies.

This soul is the summation of the many people who, over the years, for longer or shorter periods of time, have contributed their own thinking and sensitivity to building a unified creative atmosphere; one that has fostered this particular type of experimentation, making it possible to maintain the same path and a coherency of meaning over the course of a highly ramified ensemble of activities.