Consisting of two rimmed saucers, two decorated lattÃ© beakers and a 200-gram tin of coffee, this 'Artist Cup Collection' is the first in a limited series of 2000 boxed sets that Australian coffee company, Manfredi Enterprises, launched in June 2004. NSW potter, Roderick Bamford, designed this porcelain coffee ware in 1999 as part of a 'Cup Suite' that included an espresso beaker, lattÃ© beaker, cappuccino cup and saucers. Manfredi Enterprises sold these suites commercially and distributed them to the cafÃ©s and restaurants that used Manfredi coffee. The company re-launched the Cup Suite in 2004 in conjunction with the Artist Cup Collection.
Director of Manfredi Enterprises, Julie Manfredi Hughes, intended to develop an artist cup collection several years before she commissioned Sydney artist, Reg Mombassa, to design the decal for the inaugural series. She admired his wit and artistic style, as well as his willingness to work with a range of media.
Titled 'South Coast Beach Cottages', Mombassa's decal illustrates weatherboard houses above sand dunes. It is one of several artworks that he developed for the series, and when selected for the suite, it was digitally manipulated to suit the beaker proportions. (Other decal designs illustrated cockroaches and spiders.) Mombassa's comments on this work reveal a satirical connection between the pastoral scenes on historic English porcelain and the beach-scene on this twenty-first century Australian example.
'This design is loosely based on the atmospheric pastoral scenes you might see on certain pieces of nineteenth century English crockery. The wave forms of the sand dunes and foliage reflect the nautical component of the subject matter.' (Mombassa, 2004)
Julie Manfredi Hughes' appreciation for white porcelain tableware began in the late 1980s when she dined at a restaurant that served its meals on large porcelain plates. These were made by the now-obselete Italian company, Genovi. This experience had a lasting impact on Manfredi Hughes, as did the nouveau cuisine of the 1980s and 1990s when chefs explored new concepts in food presentation. Porcelain tableware underwent a revival in Australian restaurants at this time.
Manfredi Hughes' interest in porcelain tableware has transpired into some significant commissions, including the first series of Manfredi coffee ware, by Roderick Bamford, and a subsequent series by Sydney potter, Ivan Gluck. In 2004, Manfredi Enterprises again commissioned Roderick Bamford to develop a set of three 'Elipse' bowls for salads and vegetables. It has also commissioned Australian artworks for its restaurant walls, and glassware for its restaurant tables.