Monday, August 17, 2015

Heath Ceramics

I went to Sausalito last week to visit my dear friend Sherry Page of Culinary Getaways and we took an impromptu field trip to the Heath Ceramics Studio, located right down by the water. I've loved Heath for years but had never had the opportunity to visit the factory and store until now.

Although there are other Heath locations, the Sausalito space is the original factory started in 1948 by Edith and Brian Heath. In the early 40s, Edith began making ceramics and despite the fact that she had no formal training (or perhaps because of it), she quickly made a name for herself. She had a one-woman exhibition at the San Francisco Legion of Honor in 1944 and a few years later, Heath Ceramics was established. Heath creations went on to adorn many Eichler, Neutra, and mid-century modern homes on tables (in the form of hand-crafted dinnerware), and on floors and walls (in the form of stunning dimensional tile). Edith's work led to advances in clay and glaze development, securing Heath a unique place in ceramic history, along with design awards including the Industrial Arts Award from the American Institute of Architects. Many of her original pieces are a part of the permanent collections of museums such as MOMA and LACMA. The factory itself was built in 1959, and was designed by the Heaths and Marquis and Stoller Architects.

In 2003, the company was bought by Robin Petravic and Catherine Bailey and all of Heath’s products are still handcrafted by skilled artisans in small runs in the Bay Area. Edith and Brian Heath’s vision of making good things for good people—the right way—lives on.

In addition to serving platters and trays, Heath makes dinnerware of all kinds, including some very special collections, such as the Chez Panisse collection designed in collaboration with Alice Waters and made for the legendary Berkeley restaurant (which is ground zero for the modern foodie movement!).

They also produce clocks, house numbers, candle holders, and vases. But for me, as a designer, I am most interested in the specialty tiles they produce. The Sausalito location boasts an extensive tile design studio where you can see the many different colors and glazes they use in addition to the stunning shaped and raised tiles which can be used for many applications such as on fireplace breasts, and as kitchen back splashes or even bathroom walls!

Visit the Heath website for more information about the history of the company and how they make their products. And if you are in Northern California or will be, consider visiting as well as taking a tour of the Sausalito dinnerware factory or the San Francisco tile factory!

Yours truly at the Heath Ceramic factory and store
Photo by Sherry Page

Happy designing!

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