The House of Heath

Heath is a name known in ceramic circles. But you don’t have to like dinnerware or tiles to love this crazy-cool San Francisco showroom.

A ceramics store might not make the cut on your sightseeing list for San Francisco, unless you’re of a certain age. But that’s a misstep. Pencil in Heath Ceramics: The 60,000 square-foot building, formerly a commercial laundry, has reinvigorated the shopping-for-the-home experience.

Heath designs hangouts for the Mission District crowd—nooks that function as showroom but are multi-purpose. A reading area is tiled with Heath. Two large rooms display Heath dinnerware, as well as other artful pieces. Add to that the kiosk La Fleuriste (fresh flowers that will knock you out), Boiler Room art gallery, and a Blue Bottle Coffee—all on the outer perimeter of the behind-the-glass kiln. Upstairs are artist studios.

Take a walk through this city mansion during a one-hour tour. We caught up with a 60-year-old mother and her 22-year-old daughter after they took the free tour together on a Saturday.

Excerpts from two generations

Baby boomer: “I really liked the studios upstairs. The fact that artisans can find a place in this city, in a building where they can have such a beautiful space to create, was unbelievable.”

Millennial: “Upstairs there was this guy who designs one project a year for Heath. One. This year, his project is lamps. He has pictures, drawings, sketches of lamps. There’s not one computer in sight. I can’t get over that. Then, there’s another guy who inspects every tile. EVERY tile.”

BB: “I thought, ‘We’re just going to see how this pottery is made.’ But it was a gem! The tile manufacturing still reflects that Depression-era thinking that Edith Heath invented here, at a time when everyone used resources wisely. They still do. They use every part of the clay, even saving scraps.”

M: “I was more interested in the workspaces and all the nooks. There’s Blue Bottle, heated benches, and other chairs. You can work on your laptop or read, in a home store. The ceramics? They were good for Instagram photos and a little atmosphere.”

BB: “Visiting is like going back in time. This is probably what a lot of places looked like in San Francisco in the 1950s.”

M: “I felt like I had everything a girl hanging in the Mission would want: hipster accouterments but done well. Valencia Street without the annoying part.”

Starting July 24th, Heath San Francisco hosts “Alabama on Alabama,” a month-long exhibit, pop-up store, and workshop series on the Modern South.

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HeathSFAll photos courtesy of Heath Ceramics

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