Dare to Design: Heath Ceramics (Hand)Makes the Mission
Written by Jesse Mallare
For over the better half of a century, Heath Ceramics has perfected the craft of designing beautiful home goods. Husband-and-wife team Edith and Brian Heath opened their original showroom in Sausalito in 1948. The business has since expanded to 8 locations, producing high-quality kitchenware, furniture, bags, jewelry, and tiles.
While big manufacturers easily churn out thousands of products with great efficiency, Heath has dared to focus on hand-crafted designs, highlighting how the simplest objects greatly impact our day-to-day lives. This emphasis on how Heath creates its products reflects the belief that the most beautiful work is made with integrity. It makes sense that Heath would choose the Mission, an area that is equally pleasant as it is productive, for a location.
The Mission’s Heath showroom and tile factory opened its doors in 2012, a testament to the community’s commitment to design and industry. Managing and creative directors, Robin and Cathy, explain that they were initially drawn to the neighborhood 20 years ago because of the diversity.
And while the increasing demand for real estate and high-paying jobs threatens the livelihood of some natives, Robin & Cathy maintain optimism for the Mission: “We hope it doesn’t change too much. It's got lots of diversity and local flavor right now, with long time residents alongside new apartments.”
Robin and Cathy continue to discuss how the Mission neighborhood and people influence business:
“Having a business of over 200 people that designs, makes, and sells its own products means we have a lot of built-in diversity - social, economic, cultural. Finding that same feeling of diversity in this neighborhood makes us very comfortable and we aim to enhance that, and make those connections.”
In addition to the excellent Tartine bakery and on-site factory tours, Heath continues to find new ways to connect to the neighborhood that it calls home. The Heath team cited that “[one] of the reasons we opened a newsstand is to bring people together in a neighborhood hub, to connect people who both live and work in the area.”
Heath Ceramics is symbolic of a growing interest in local craftsmanship and industrious blue collar work. Even in a time of immense tech and corporate influence, Heath is a testament to successful mom-and-pop shops that have been able to grow and expand while still retaining their sense of independence, family, and community.