Founded in 1948, California-based Heath Ceramics is a design-focused, family-owned business known for their handcrafted ceramic tableware and architectural tiles.
Throughout its near 70 year history, Heath Ceramics has grown organically with a commitment to local manufacturing and environmental responsibility, still making dinnerware today in its original factory in Sausalito, California. The company was recently recognized with the 2015 National Design Award for Corporate and Institutional Achievement awarded by the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.
We caught up with Megan Sanguinetti, who works in Heath’s design team, to learn more about the California-based company’s focus on design, and how they use Dropmark to get things done as a team.
First, congratulations on your National Design Award. Your submission was titled “Business by Design”, can you tell me more about your design-focused approach to business?
Thank you! It means so much to be recognized for our macro use of design. Whether you call it working in-house, or think of it as working at a vertically integrated company, the freedom to be the client and designer gives us an incredible amount of insight and opportunity. We design the product, of course, but it goes so far beyond that. We design and define the process, the environment, the experience. The job is never done, in the best way possible. The submission can be seen here, or even better, stop by one of our factories and showrooms for a tour.
Heath Ceramics showroom in Los Angeles
“We design and define the process, the environment, the experience. The job is never done, in the best way possible.”
What inspires your team?
Getting outside and seeing things differently. The inspiration that comes from the built and natural environments is unbeatable, and the great thing about inspiration is that it feeds itself — once you see one thing in a new light it creates new connections and you start thinking about everything in new ways. Cathy just came back from 3 weeks in Spain and Portugal; Rosalie from a weekend in Colorado; Ada was in Philadelphia earlier this month and Tung and I spent a week in LA. It’s hard to put yourself in a new context and not feel that jolt of creative energy.
Seasonal dinnerware by Heath Ceramics, photo by Jeffery Cross
You make a lot of beautiful products, can you tell me about your team’s creative process?
The creative process extends very organically from the inspiring people and work we surround ourselves with (to name drop a few: Brendan Monroe, Stan Bitters, Matt Dick of Small Trade Co, Julia Turner and so many more). We’re lucky to not feel beholden to product cycles, so when inspiration hits, we follow it. Often, it meanders and ends in an unexpected place (like our recently created tile collection, Mural, which was originally slated to be a custom commercial installation). Leaving room for serendipity and exploration enables our team to change course quickly and be creatively satisfied with a huge variety of work.
“Leaving room for serendipity and exploration enables our team to change course quickly and be creatively satisfied with a huge variety of work.”
Who do you use Dropmark with?
We use Dropmark within our design team for reviewing web mock ups and with our fantastic e-commerce director (hi Joseph!) to collect web inspiration. We’ve recently begun exploring what the future of the Heath site is, and Dropmark is such a great tool for collaborative “notes to self.” Personally, I also use it to capture all sorts of bits of inspiration.
Mural tile and clay studio, photo by Mariko Reed
How does Dropmark fit into your team’s workflow?
We use Dropmark in a few ways: for collecting inspiration of course, but also to review web comps. I love using Dropmark to organize different iterations of web updates and track progress. I can add notes and annotations for myself and others, it’s easy to present in the browser and navigating between multiple iterations is a breeze.
Lastly, what’s the most interesting thing you’ve Dropmarked recently?
We’re all enamored with companies that own and shape the experience from beginning to end, and create their own visual language. This website from Maharam has such a simple and beautiful top navigation — distilled to only 3 items!
For more Heath Ceramics visit heathceramics.com and follow @heathceramics on Twitter.