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National Design Award: Heath Ceramics

This piece originally appeared on Heath Ceramics in 2015.

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Here’s a little recap of what landed us the honor of the Cooper Hewitt’s National Design Award in Corporate & Institutional Achievement. Our submission – Business by Design – was organized around five key principles, each with two projects that illustrate our approach:

Leading by Design: our strategy

Growing responsibly: We will never outsource. What matters is maintaining our humanity and remaining human-scale. These truths color every decision we make, from how we price to how we behave.

Being direct: As a company that designs, makes, and invests in products we sell direct to our customer, you hear our story from our mouths.

Making Space: where we work

Making it clear: The transparency among our spaces — design, manufacturing, and retail — creates cohesion between three often disparate functions.

Using color: Our factory and showroom are part of a single, cohesive design vision that impacts clarity, efficiency, and allows us to share useful tools between the two.

Heath Ceramics Design

Making Community: who we work with

Designing a collective: “Surround yourself with smart people.” We designed this adage into our San Francisco factory, deliberately taking on more space than we needed, intending to fill it with talented makers who work with, inspire, and bring out the best in us (and vice versa).

Creating connection: We chose transparency as a key architectural element, connecting making with selling for a democratic relationship between the people that produce our product and the customers that buy it. We intermingle in harmony.

Designing for a Better World: why we work

Built for life: We have nothing in common with fast fashion. We design our dinnerware to mix, match, and live long. Any color in the palette enjoys a minimum of ten years in the spotlight, short of our small-run seasonal collection which we use to explore, experiment, and share new techniques with our customers.

Packaging for more and less impact: Excessive packaging is, by definition, bad design, and terrible for the environment. We design packaging we’re proud of.

Heath 2

Staying Creative by Design: what inspires us

The mural pattern: Unconstrained by traditional product development schedules, we produced something we were proud of — but only when it felt right, not when someone else’s model told us so.

Tearing down boundaries: What is design? What is art? What is making? We don’t think those boundaries really exist and our new Boiler Room in San Francisco is our space to explore those intersections. Each informs the other, and that’s how we run Heath.

Our customers and community, along with our love and reverence for design, are huge inspirations for all we do. Be a part of the National Design Award celebration (which includes an October Gala, and a possible White House visit) via Instagram and Facebook.

Photo 1 courtesy Brett Wickens
Photos 2 & 3 courtesy Mariko Reed

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