Painted paper coffee cups by Gwyneth LeechImage via www.londondesignfestival.com

As well as the big set piece shows that take place during London Design Week, the capital also comes alive with art and design pop up installations all over the city. You never know what you’re going to find on street corners, in public spaces, and in favourite shops and galleries. For me, that’s one of the festival’s greatest pleasures – art and design conspicuously intertwined with our everyday lives.

You don’t get much more public than sitting in a shop window on one of the West End’s busiest streets, and American artist Gwyneth Leech found no shortage of inspiration from the passing scenes (including lots of umbrellas – this was the English summer after all) as she sat in the Regent Street branch of Anthropologie to paint and draw her coffee cup artworks.

Artist Gwyneth Leech surrounded by her painted coffee cupsImage via www.londondesignfestival.com

A wonderfully simple concept using the most mundane of everyday objects, Gwyneth started her paper cup drawings four years ago, and explains how they came about:

“My drawing surface of choice since 2009 has been the paper take-out coffee cup. I save the cups from the hot drinks I buy and occasionally collect them from other artists with whom I meet for tea or coffee around town. I wash and dry them and record on the bottom the date, place and occasion, as well as the drink that was consumed, thus capturing the social moment just passed.”

Public installations of her cups, including public drawing experiences, have taken place in the US in the last couple of years, and arrived in London for a 5-day stint at Anthropologie for the London Design Festival. You can hear Gwyneth talk about the project, “365 – A Year in Cups”, and see her in action in the short video below:

Porcelain coffee cups with painted scenes by Gwyneth Leece

To commemorate the event, a small selection of Gwyneth’s paper cup artworks have been reproduced as porcelain latte and cappuccino cups by Anthropologie. What a wonderful way to have a piece of art and a tiny snapshot of everyday life that can also be used every day.

Porcelain latte cup with New York street scene and yellow taxiLatte cup with blue figures and umbrellas from Anthropologie

Gwyneth’s exploration of public drawing has led her to observe that “People are perennially fascinated by the artist’s ability to make something out of nothing in the act of drawing”. Her work also invites us to consider how objects of beauty can also be made from something that most of us would discard without even thinking about it.

Images: Anthropologie; Gwyneth Leech

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