Photo: Under Louise Harpman’s bed, in acid-free boxes, there are superior double-walled, climate-controlled and UV-protected cases filled to the brim with plastic coffee cup lids. Over 550 to be exact—and the number is growing.
The Guinness World Records world record for the largest collection of coffee pots belongs to Robert Dahl (Germany) and consists of 27,390 coffee pots as of 2 November 2012, in Rövershagen, Germany.
Guinness World Records also recognized the world record for the largest pyramid of coffee cups; it consisted of 22,140 cups and was constructed by Melanie Lütkefent, Vanessa Höft, Miriam Plümer, Arman Schlieker and Damian Krey (all Germany) in association with the company Aral AG at the Du Mont Carre, Cologne, Germany, on 8 October 2010.
Architects Louise Harpman and Scott Specht own the world’s largest collection of disposable plastic coffee cup lids.
From their 2005 Cabinet magazine essay: “We began our collection during college in 1984 when the purpose-built cup lids began to appear with some frequency.
“Up until that time, coffee drinkers who wanted a drink-through lid had to go DIY: beginning from two points along the outer edge of any flat plastic cup lid, the drinker would peel back the plastic rim along two radial axes toward the centerpoint of the lid, creating a jagged wedge of an opening.
“The collection got some attention in 2005 with its inclusion in Proteus Gowanus, a Brooklyn gallery, and a feature in Cabinet to follow, and next week, over 50 of their lids will appear in the National Museum of American History’s new exhibit, “FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000,” The Smithsonian.com reports.
An architecture and design professor at New York University, Harpman has taught classes on collecting and museum culture. She argues that the humble lids represent a major shift in American “to-go” culture, and how most of us overlook the ordinary.