I may not talk about it much, but I love being an observer of good design. Product/industrial, interior, surface (textile/patterns), architecture... I particularly love well designed things that are part of our everyday lives. Since I was in my teens, I've been voraciously reading interior design and architecture magazines, and ripping out pages to stuff in my inspiration files. Paint colours, ceramics, textiles, furniture, gardens... the right combination of materials, textures, and colours can be like a religious experience - well, if you practice the religion of pretty things.
When Bruno and I embarked on our road trip to San Francisco earlier in the summer, there weren't too many destinations on my "must see" list. I was just going to go with the flow, except I HAD to go to at least one Heath Ceramics store. I've been coveting Heath Ceramics' gorgeous wares for as long as I can remember. And yet, I'd never even seen a piece in person! Well, I can tell you, they did not for a moment disappoint. If you're not familiar with their company, this is a wonderful video about their history, production methods, team, etc. - they put so much love and passion into what they do:
The company was founded in 1948 by ceramicist Edith Heath (who passed away in 2005), and is now owned and run by Catherine Bailey and Robin Petravic. They continue to use the original manufacturing facility in Sausalito and keep the aesthetic and values that Edith Heath started the company with alive. The classic styles and bold colours are really both gorgeous and timeless.
Featured colours at the new Heath Ceramics San Francisco Showroom
See more of the 2012 line on Design*Sponge
We spent the first couple days of our stay in San Francisco wandering around the Mission District, so we made a pilgrimage to the brand new Heath showroom. The modern/minimal decor and the old industrial building let all the beautiful colours and textures shine. I was ridiculously excited to go step through the doors, it was almost like being in an art museum where I was allowed to touch and hold all the pieces... and could afford to buy them! Not only is this stuff gorgeous, but it's also in a price range that for locally designed and manufactured products, it's hardly a stretch. This stuff is so classic that it'll definitely be kept for life.
They also have featured artists come in and design seasonal feature lines, so there is always something old and something new. Some of the collaborations they've done so far include Akio Nukaga, Alabama Chanin (both were still available at the SF stores in August 2012 when we were there), and Geoff McFetridge.
The new showroom is also set to be their tile line's headquarters, with a factory in the works in the main part of the building behind the showroom. They already had the display set up, and let's say that the bathrooms and back splashes of my imaginary dream house are now coated exclusively in Heath/Dwell tile. This stuff is beautiful! The patterns and colours are so unique and vibrant. I think I drooled a little.
Not only was the shop and everything in it gorgeous, but the staff there was also so wonderful - friendly and helpful but not overbearing. It was all just the perfect experience and Bruno and I selected a little collection of mugs and bowls (and one tiny vase!) to bring home with us. Yes, for me this is romance - forget fancy weddings and diamond rings, just come shopping for pottery with me!
I was extremely excited to also go do the factory tour in Sausalito on the weekend (and shop in the overstock area!!!), but ended up feeling crummy and having to lay low, so it'll have to wait until next time. It looks fascinating to see the process first hand, and I find it completely amazing how loyal and enthusiastic their team is. The care they take making each piece can be felt. Even if you never make it to the tour, you can get a taste of that by watching the video above.
Our last day in San Francisco, I did manage to take a little streetcar ride down to the Ferry Market Building and see the little Heath boutique there. It was adorable and the woman working there was awesome too - we talked for a while about the textiles sold at Heath. I wish I'd had way more time to wander around, there were so many neat looking shops!
Now that we're home, we get to enjoy using our Heath pieces every day, and feel the love that goes into each piece, as well as remembering our first big road trip together...
And a little tangential find - I got a couple (ridiculously cheap!) organic cotton Heath bags to bring home - this one has been my go-to ever since, and even came with me to Santa Monica last week! Towards the end of our road trip, I came across a textile designer Heather Moore who goes by the pseudonym/shop name Skinny laMinx on a blog or something (can't recall!) And next time I picked up my bag, I noticed down the side it said "skinnylaminx.com" - what!? It was a Heath bag printed by Skinny laMinx??? Strange coincidence! I've quickly become a huuuuge fan of Heather's work as well. She's a textile designer in Cape Town, South Africa, and her work is beautiful and cheery. She's quickly joined the ranks of my textile design idols, and her shop in Cape Town is adorable and pretty much a dream.
If you love this stuff as much as me, I've only grazed the surface... read/see more at:
- Heath Ceramics website - seriously one of the absolute best shop/company sites I've seen. There's so much interesting content about their history, staff, products, etc.
- Heath Ceramics' Vimeo channel - they've also been posting great videos every couple months.
- Heath Ceramics Twitter, Facebook, and you can also follow @heathceramics on Instagram (I believe these are all posted by co-owner Cathy, at least the Instagram is hers I'm quite certain)
- Heath Ceramics Tumblr blog - also from Cathy, she posts about their travels and what's going on at Heath, and also re-posts some Instagram photos
- Apartment Therapy: AT Offline: Heath Ceramics
- Design*Sponge: New: Heath Store in SF
- Design*Sponge: Sneak Peek: Cathy + Robin of Heath Ceramics (this is photos of their beautiful house!)
- Skinny laMinx website and her Etsy shop if you want to buy things in North America
- Skinny laMinx blog, Twitter, Facebook, and she's also on Instagram @skinnylaminx