Design Notes Archive

Heath Ceramics

Heath Ceramics

Half way around the globe in Sausalito, California, there is a ceramics company called Heath that has garnered a cult following over the past 60 years. Founded in 1948 by husband-wife duo Edith and Brian Heath, the tableware and tile company produces designs that blend seamlessly in interiors from coast to coast. We are kindred spirits in a way, both producing ceramics locally, collaborating with artists, and championing would-be competitors for their good work. Take the new book, Tile Makes the Room: Good Design from Heath Ceramics by current owners, Robin Petravic and Catherine Bailey (also a husband-wife team who bought the company from the Heath’s in 2003). The eye-catching tome is loaded with houses from a global array of artists, architects and designers where tile takes center stage whether it’s Heath’s or not.

We were particularly drawn to the chalky green palette of two homes on opposite sides of the Atlantic. The hue is calming and spa-like even when used in a kitchen as designer Agnes Emery did in her Brussels home. Emery, whose company Emery et Cie we are also huge fans of, lined the walls with square terra-cotta tiles from Fez. Each one is hand-cut with a beveled edge so that despite their irregular lines, the tiles can be laid tightly without grout peaking through.

Magically, thousands of miles away in the American Midwest, a Wyoming home features the same soothing palette of sea greens. Designed by Carney Logan Burke Architects, the floor-to-ceiling installation could have easily gone the cold and sterile route but instead it feels warm and enveloping thanks to the natural colour variations that occur in hand glazed tiles. On a technical note, these rooms illustrate how the shade of glaze in a single production run can range from subtle to extreme when tile is handcrafted. Balineum's Hanley tiles have a relatively even finish with a nod to their handmade roots, not unlike the slight colour variation in the Emery house. For an effect similar to the Wyoming home, we would fire a custom glaze with greater shade variation. That's the beauty of making things by hand, your wish is our command! 

Photograph © Morten Holtum, Matthew Millman