Rich Roat was co-founder and co-owner, along with Andy Cruz, of House Industries of Yorklyn, Delaware. Andy called us Wednesday with the unimaginable news that Rich had passed away that morning. Healthy, active, creative, energetic, and leaving a wife and two teenagers without a hint of any such tragedy on the horizon. These are the moments you don’t expect, when you hear news that makes everything in your body sink to the bottom of your stomach, and you find out the bottom of your stomach is lower than you thought it could be.
We’ve worked with Rich and House Industries on many projects over the past ten years or so — ceramic house numbers and clocks designed with their fonts. We’ve come to rely on their obsessive devotion to detail, always driving us to do better work. Rich was insanely bright, passionate, and humble. He and his team are those people you hope to know and work with, who inspire you on many levels, personally and professionally, and make you want to be better. The loss of Rich feels unmeasurable.
Rich’s approach to his job was to make it as close as he could to what he’d want to be doing if he didn’t have to have a job — and we can’t think of many who stuck to that philosophy better, requiring both wisdom and guts along with a little bit of just going for it because it’ll make you happy if it actually happens.
Over the years we learned how much in sync we were around the crossing over of design, creativity, and business. That if we don’t do things because we’re going to be inspired, learn new things, and enjoy the people we’re working with it’s not worth doing. That we learn and get better by trying things and learning, and building upon what we’ve done before; that it’s the process not the strategy. And, that it makes some worthwhile business sense will come from the faith that these ingredients make the magic, Rich taught us all this. After a while when working with Rich, we didn’t have to explain these approaches to our work, they just seemed obvious, and we looked forward to seeing what new creative endeavor — only when it “felt” right — might bring us together again. That we learned these things about each other on long bike rides, or while putting together workshops and events that invariably featured a live performance from the Mattson 2, made it that much more fun.
So while we are heartbroken as we say goodbye to Rich, a beloved collaborator who’s meant so much to Heath, to us and our family, we celebrate all that he helped us accomplish together and how we inspired each other over many years. Rich helped make us better people and made our work better, too.
We’re fond of simple beauty and subtlety. And this summer is no exception. Welcome to the muted and soft shades of Summer ’17: Fog, Sequoia, Rosemary, Hydrangea, and Peony. A delightful combination of matte glazes, the season includes a new wax resist technique on our vases. These glazes are available for a limited time on timeless Heath pieces, like our Rim nesting bowls, tall tumblers, serving pieces, candles, containers, and Ornament clock.
This year’s special technique gave us a chance to experiment with a wax resist on our single stem and bulb vases. We use a wax mixed with blue stain, which is then applied by hand with a sponge, then spray-glazed with Fog, our soft green glaze that you’ll recognize from our tile collection. The result is an earthy, organic pattern. Each vase is highly unique in its pattern and glaze variation, reflecting the handcrafted nature of production.
We’ve also brought together coordinating goods for your home, including Esque pitchers, new cutlery from David Mellor, white oak cutting boards from Jacob May Design, and linens from Adelene, Alabama Chanin, and Non-Perishable Goods. And that’s not all: You’ll find seasonal Heath Jewelry (including some with the wax resist technique), and custom necklaces and earrings from Julia Turner, too.
At Heath, one of the things that brings us together is the belief that sharing a meal is a meaningful everyday act. Although we often gather in our workplace around meals, last year we started a new tradition that revolves around meeting at the table, trying new recipes, and sharing our experiences.
Inspired by an article about a soup club amongst friends, we formed a Cookbook Club at our San Francisco location. Open to everyone at Heath, the dinners quickly took off — a love for food, after all, is a natural fit for a company known for dinnerware! Conveniently, we sell a rotating selection of cookbooks in our showrooms, and Cookbook Club is a great way to become more familiar with our inventory. And what a delicious way to learn.
For us, it’s been a wonderful way to gather folks across departments, expand our cooking skills, and, of course, enjoy a good, home cooked meal. We can’t recommend it enough! If you’re feeling inspired, here are some tips to help you get started.
Start a planning committee. A group of three form the core of Cookbook Club: they set the date, select the cookbook, and organize the logistics. Ask around to see who’s interested, and get two people to help you get started. First, figure out the logistics and what’s required: where and when makes sense to meet and what sign-up system makes the most sense for your community. Our initial steering committee created a task-list for day-of setup and breakdown, which we refer to each time. Finally, draft up an announcement that explains the event and lists details on how to sign up. The initial logistics may take some extra legwork, but once you have a system in place, it’s easy to make this a recurring event (we dine together every 1-2 months).
Find a space. Ideally, you’ll want a space that can accommodate final food prep and post-dinner clean up. Though people bring their dishes fully cooked ahead of time, there’s always a whirl of reheating and finishing touches before we sit down to eat. Additionally, we rearrange our breakroom tables and benches in order to form a single, large dining table, and then set it with proper linens, metal cutlery, and Heath dishes (we’re lucky to have fully stocked dinnerware cabinets at our disposal). Consider off-site options if you don’t have convenient access to a sink and stove, oven, or microwave at work. Post-meal clean up is important to keep in mind, too; we all pitch in (and bring storage containers for leftovers!).
Choose a cookbook. If you’re starting your own club, think about what sort of meal you’d like to share and what the relative kitchen skills of your community are. Some cookbooks are better for novice cooks, others for aspiring chefs. And some are highly focused (a meal of breakfast foods, or sandwiches), while others cover a broad range of types of dishes. If you’re looking for inspiration, browse a Heath showroom or a local bookstore with a good cooking section (try Omnivore in San Francisco!). Or consider asking your coworkers and friends for ideas — maybe there’s someone who always brings in interesting leftovers who could lend a book from their personal collection. Once you choose a book, determine a communal way for people to browse and sign up for their recipe ahead of time.
We keep our sign-up simple: we keep Post-It notes and a pen by the cookbook in our break room, and we set it out about two weeks ahead of each dinner. Everyone who is interested in coming chooses a recipe and makes their own copy. We’ve found that each dinner yields a good variety of appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Of course, it helps if the cookbook you select features food in each of those groups, too.
Some of our favorites: The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters; Seven Spoons: My Favorite Recipes for Any and Every Day by Tara O’Brady; Near and Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel by Heidi Swanson; Everything I Want to Eat by Jessica Koslow; and Dinner at the Long Table by Andrew Tarlow.
Keep it inclusive. Cookbook Club can be a great way to learn new cooking skills, try new ingredients, and stretch your recipe repertoire. But not all of us are master chefs, and some weeks get too hectic to take on additional tasks. We always have an open invitation for folks who don’t pick a recipe to bring drinks, bread, and cheese; and keep in mind that most cookbooks include a few options for the cooking-averse: who can say no to avocado toast?
Consider bringing supplies like dinnerware and linens from home if you don’t have them in the office, or pool resources to thrift for scrap fabric and make your own set (we had two crafty Heath-niks who did this from leftover fabric banners!). Keep overhead low, so you won’t run into obstacles that keep you from the main point: gathering together to share a good meal.
Enjoy the meal, and talk about it! Once we sit down to eat, we naturally end up in a conversation about our experiences with the recipe and its preparation — how did it translate from the page, what was the process like, and would you make it again? It’s a great discussion, and it’s a fun way to get to know each other, too. One of our favorite tales was at the first Cookbook Club, hearing our coworker Gabriel describe making grape jam for the first time — he patiently squeezed each single grape to yield juice, drop by drop. At the end of the meal, as we share dessert, we put names of all attendees in a bowl and draw a winner to take home the copy of the book. Everyone signs the book and adds personal notes for their dish, like a yearbook. It’s a touching way to end the meal, and keeps us feeling inspired to pick up a cookbook next time we’re wondering what to make.
Read on here for a recipe from Jessica Koslow’s (of Los Angeles’ Sqirl restaurant) Everything I Want to Eat.
We’ve long admired the delicious yet still health-conscious food from Sqirl, the popular Los Angeles breakfast and lunch restaurant from Jessica Koslow. Although we love a good brunch on the weekend, we also enjoy cooking at home, and we started a company Cookbook Club to cultivate our skills and enjoy a good meal with each other. Recently our club got a copy of Jessica’s debut cookbook, Everything I Want to Eat — and she graciously let us share our favorite recipe from the night with our readers. Bon appétit!
Shredded Vegetable Socca
By Jessica Koslow. Reproduced with permission from Everything I Want to Eat: Sqirl and the New California Cooking (Abrams, 2016)
1 pound/455 grams zucchini, carrots or winter squash, peeled and coarsely grated on the large holes of a box grater or with the grating attachment of a food processor Fine sea salt ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds ¼ teaspoon coriander seeds ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds 4 large eggs 1 clove garlic, minced 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro ⅔ cup/80 grams chickpea flour Black pepper Pinch of ground cinnamon (use only with winter squash) Pinch of ground ginger (use with squash) 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, more as needed ½ cup/120 milliliters labneh or whole-milk Greek yogurt 3 cups/60 grams spicy salad greens (such as watercress, arugula or baby mustard greens) 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1. Toss grated vegetable with big pinches of salt. Put it in a fine-mesh sieve and let drain, squeezing every so often so that the vegetable releases its water, for at least 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, combine cumin, coriander and fennel seeds in a dry skillet over medium-low heat. Toast the spices, shaking the pan often, until fragrant but not burned, about 3 minutes. Using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, grind toasted spices to a powder.
3. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Add drained vegetable, along with garlic, oregano, mint, cilantro, chickpea flour and toasted spices. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper, and mix well. If you are using winter squash, stir in cinnamon and ginger. (The pancake batter can be made up to 2 days ahead and stored, covered, in the fridge.)
4. Melt butter in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Spoon in two ½ cupfuls of the pancake batter. Use the back of your spoon or a spatula to flatten each to ½-inch thick. Cook, rotating the skillet for even browning, until pancakes are nicely browned, about 4 minutes. Flip, then cook the second side for another few minutes. Transfer pancakes to a plate. Repeat to make 2 more pancakes, adding butter to the skillet if needed.
5. Season labneh or yogurt with salt to taste. Just before serving, toss greens with lemon juice, oil and salt and pepper. Top each pancake with a dollop of labneh or yogurt and a tangle of greens.
For us, every registry is personal. It’s about people, and it’s about relationships — long lasting ones. When you register with Heath, you become part of the Heath family and we take that responsibility pretty seriously.
We hear stories all the time from folks who’ve used their Heath dishes for decades, and we love being included in peoples’ histories and legacies. It’s an honor to be a part of your special event and to get to share with you some of our values at Heath in different ways. Here are our favorite five ways that a Heath registry lets us share our traditions with you.
Our registry’s “secret sauce” is our people, whether they’re in our showroom, or part of our three-person Customer Service team. We’re exceedingly familiar with our products and know all the little tricks to make the most of your new Heathware; plus, we can help you navigate through the new world of registries. Rest assured that, beginning to end, you’ll always have someone to lean on, whether it’s to help inform your selection of glazes, suggest accompanying flatware, or coordinate shipping.
Unlike online-only retailers, our brick-and-mortar stores give you a chance to pick up the products in your hands (trust us, it makes a difference!). If you’re in California, come into our four showrooms and talk to us in person. You can experiment with place setting combinations until you find one that feels just right, and we’ll update your registry with you onsite. And if you want, you can even take a tour of our factories.
Of course, if you’re not close to one of our stores, you can always talk to Tressa, our registry specialist, who has years of experience helping people through the process, virtually.
And speaking of mixing and matching sets, we offer a 10% set discount for our dinnerware. Learn more here.
At Heath, we offer two types of registries: Conventional and Virtual. These options allow you to control how you receive your registry items in a way that makes sense for your friends & family and lifestyle.
A Conventional registry gives your guests the option to purchase in any of our four showrooms or heathceramics.com, and each order ships out right away.
A Virtual registry exists digitally (online-only purchases), and enables you to easily make changes to your registry, even after items have been paid for by your guests. Once you have the final assortment that you’re ready to receive, you choose a ship date that is most convenient and we ship all together — it’s a great way to control the build-up of boxes in your living room!
If your registry has outstanding items but you’re ready to get the ball rolling (read: eat dinner off your new plates as soon as possible), we offer Heath registrants a one-time completion discount of 15% toward remaining registry items. Just send us a note after your event date, and we’ll take care of the rest. (Read more about completion codes on our Registry FAQ page.)
With dishes and home accessories that are made honestly, with intention, you’ll feel good about selecting Heath for your registry. You’d expect every thing we make to be designed for longevity and made with integrity and care for our people and our environment. But that same ethos carries through to the items we carry in our stores and online, too.
We’re choosy about who we work with. If we carry their products, it means that we feel good that they’re makers and independent companies whose values we share. They design with integrity, and manufacturing and making is a core part of what they do.
It’s all part of what it means to be part of the Heath family, sharing values, great design, and goods with heart.
A huge thanks to our employees and partnering organizations for our first annual Heath Service Day, which took place on Monday, January 16 in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and part of #NationalServiceDay.
On a recent trip to Southern California, we stopped by the Norton Simon Museum — previously the Pasadena Art Museum — to check out its extensive art collections and sculpture garden and, of course, its unique Heath Tile exterior.
As we browsed and admired the volcanic-textured cladding of large, 5” x 15” custom Heath Tiles, we started to wonder about the backstory. A little digging through the Heath archives and oral history unearthed it.
The Norton Simon building – completed in 1969 – was designed by architects Ladd & Kelsey. The firm approached Edith with a request she’d rarely said yes to before: to design custom tile for the project. Fortunately, this time, Edith said yes.
The project was so successful that in 1971, Edith received the highly prestigious AIA Industrial Arts Medal award from the American Institute of Architects, marking the first time that a non-architect was the recipient of such an honor.
In an oral history from 1995, Edith explained that the large-sized tile was unique since its size meant that tile setters didn’t need to cut the tile onsite: “My idea was that tile should be designed to ‘fill a space’ as in filling a space with canvas. [… I] designed the tile so it would fit the common dimensions that were used in architecture.” (This notion now seems a precursor to Edith’s later passion for modular building components, such as extruded clay forms, a construction medium Edith considered to be structurally sound, cost effective, and environmentally conscientious.)
The building’s design evoked Hadrian’s Tomb, an ancient curvilinear site in Rome. Edith was initially asked to create tile with a textured relief reminiscent of the stones, which she resisted. Instead, she suggested that working creatively with glaze would yield a more compelling effect.
Her expertise in glaze-making came into play. She began experimenting with layered glazes — a process we continually explore even now — to produce a glazed tile inspired by the inherent variation of natural materials.
“As glazes melt, they boil. A lower melting glaze would boil up through a stiff glaze that is on the top, creating a volcanic bubbly eruption frozen in time.” After multiple layered glaze experiments, Edith honed in on Brick Red laid over Onyx — two glazes we still make today (for a similar effect in contemporary tile, we suggest our Layered Glaze Paprika-Gunmetal).
The effect was richly textured and pigmented, complementing the nearby Pasadena Mountains. The deep umber color varies from light to dark, which is one of our favorite things about working with handcrafted tile. That character and personality that comes through can’t be beat. Not in 1969, and not today, either.
The Norton Simon’s gorgeous exterior has not only stood the test of time, but weathered it well. The condition of the museum to this day is a testament to the durability and function of tile as an exterior cladding, a usage we here at Heath wish we saw more of.
We continue to expand upon Edith’s legacy, both in her commitment to integrating tile fully into the design of a space and in passionately exploring the possibilities of glazes, as in the most recent Heath Clay Studio project, Design Series 4: Alchemy.
Photos: Environmental Design Archives at UC Berkeley (top) and Heath Ceramics.
Sorry, we can’t tell you who the stars are (and besides, everyone’s a star), but we can certainly tell you a little about Tressa, our Registry Specialist, who’s been a part of so many big celebrations – not just weddings and commitment ceremonies but New Homes, Big Birthdays, or Just Because.
A member of our Customer Service team, Tressa’s been our Registry Specialist since 2012. It’s a job that calls for a rare mix of traits, like a great eye, deep product knowledge, and modern etiquette IQ. From time to time, it also requires the instincts of a therapist and the talents of a seasoned diplomat. We caught up with Tressa in between phone calls and emails to dish a little.
How’d you come to Heath?
I was born in San Francisco and raised in Sonoma County, so of course I knew about Heath. And pottery was a big part of my life growing up: my mother is a huge lover of ceramics and china. My father also had a taste for studio pottery. So you could say it’s in my blood.
So are you a collector too?
Oh yes. My family knows this about me, and when they give me things, it’s dinnerware! I just love looking at the china in my china cabinet.
Whoa, hold up. You have a china cabinet?
I know, I know. Not many people do (particularly if they’re not married) but I’m proud of it. And since I love cooking at home, I do use my china everyday.
Come on. Not every day.
Yes! Pretty much every night, I set the table (and I’ve trained my boyfriend to do it, too). I light candles and bring out the china. After a long day, I don’t want to spend an hour and a half prepping and cooking a meal, only to chow down, leaning against the counter. [Wow. We’re impressed, not to mention inspired.]
OK, let’s play a speed round. What’s the most important thing to keep in mind when I’m putting together a registry?
A registry is a great balance between what you want, but also about being realistic about who you are, and who your guests are.
How many place settings?
I am all about less is more. And these days, it’s less about number, and more about how you really live: how much storage you have, how you entertain, etc. The really great thing about Heath is that we are NOT always changing up our collection, discontinuing lines, or anything like that. So it’s not like you have to get it all now.
And how many things should I put on my registry?
It depends on the number of guests for your event, and making sure that they have enough to buy! And people should consider price range: you should balance more expensive things with less expensive ones, or have something that would be good for people to go in on together as a group.
What do you think people like the most about registering with Heath?
People love to be able to mix and match. I think it may be the knowledge that you’re really creating your own collection, something that really reflects you.
Do you find yourself offering design advice?
All the time. People love to ask questions about color and shape all the time. They want to know what the do’s and don’ts are. And the answer is that, with a few exceptions, so much of it depends on the registrant’s preference when it comes to mixing and matching. And one of the best things about Heath is how good it looks with other kinds of dinnerware: so you can mix something new with something your grandmother gave you. I have a blue Spode Willow Pattern collection, and my Coupe and Chez Panisse dinnerware looks great with it.
What are your favorite questions to answer or problems to help with?
My favorite question to answer is this one: “After we get married, do we get a discount on things we didn’t receive?” I love that: because the answer is yes!
What surprises you most?
That people don’t redeem their virtual registry credit! People hang onto it for a long time and that often blows my mind! If I had a bunch of Heath registry credit burning a hole in my pocket… wow. I would be dangerous.
Thanks, Tressa. Have more questions? Give our Customer Service team a call, send us an email, or come into our showrooms—each location has a designated Showroom Registry Specialist, so just ask! Learn more about Heath Registries here.
In case you have extra big news to share and big beginnings ahead as 2017 starts off, here’s a throwback to our favorite tips on Heath Registries.