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Tile Makes The Room: Good Design from Heath Ceramics

A new book explores the function and artistry of a decor essential in creating memorable spaces

by Julie Wolfson
on 28 September 2015

When Catherine Bailey and Robin Petravic of Heath Ceramics set out to write a book celebrating the art and craft of tile, they looked for inspirational examples close to home and around the world. The result, “Tile Makes the Room," is filled with pages of colorful homes, hotels, restaurants, gardens, museums and buildings that show off the versatility and impact of the simple, repeating tile.

Each section of the book—published by Ten Speed Press in Berkeley, California—highlights tile designs from across the globe. From Bailey and Petravic’s own 1890s home near the original Heath factory in Sausalito, California, they include their field tile with custom press graphics by Geoff McFetridge. Among the others featured, the Romita Comedor restaurant in Mexico City has cement tiles designed by Richard Mozka that create a bold pattern as the letter R angles to connect adjacent tiles. Slash Tile, from the Sittio Collection by Commune, cover the walls in the restaurant at the Ace Hotel, Los Angeles. In Sao Paulo, Brazil, a private home features exterior and dining room walls with a coated ceramics mosaic by Mazza Ceramics.

More than a decade ago, Bailey and Petravic bought Heath Ceramics and since, have built a state-of-the-art tile factory in San Francisco’s Mission District. When asked why tiles have become such a big part of Heath Ceramics—best known as a go-to source for tableware—Bailey explains, “Tile’s been a part of our business since the late '60s when Edith Heath and her team began exploring using the same clay we were using for dinnerware as a functional and decorative building material. One of our first big projects was the Norton Simon Museum, which is clad in 115,000 tiles designed by Edith Heath. We love ceramic tile because it has so many functional, design, and even artistic possibilities.”

There are lots of great books about the tile as an object, but very few about tile and its role in creating wonderful spaces

On the project's origins, Petravic tells CH, “There are lots of great books about the tile as an object, but very few about tile and its role in creating wonderful spaces. So we thought it would be great to have a resource showing how we think about tile: it’s about the whole design, the whole room, and the beautiful material that tile is. Hence the name, 'Tile Makes the Room.'”

“We started close to home: we know many designers that use our tile beautifully and whose work inspires us,” says Petravic. “That was the foundation, and we looked at their work to see how they were using other tiles in their designs.” They asked photographer Mariko Reed and many friends and colleagues for suggestions of favorite tile designs. “So many people had a design in mind that stuck with them. We started connecting all these dots and filtered it all through our own design sensibility.”

The Project Details section of the book shares resource information about tile manufacturers and other materials to help make tiling a kitchen, bathroom, patio or other architectural projects a reality. The book also highlights gorgeous tile designs from Portugal to Japan, providing a thoughtful itinerary for travelers looking for design sites to visit.

"Tile Makes the Room" by Catherine Bailey and Robin Petravic releases 29 September 2015. Pre-order is available now on Amazon.

Images by Julie Wolfson

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