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Coffee Break: Heath Ceramics and Blue Bottle

Heath Ceramics recently opened a factory and retail location in San Francisco and partnered with Blue Bottle Coffee to open a cafe inside of the 60,000-square-foot former industrial laundry. Thanks to the keen design eye of Commune—who helped with the look and feel of the interiors—and structural wizardry of Charles Hemminger of hemmingerarchitects—who helped refine the architecture—Heath has a new home at 18th Street and Alabama befitting its wares.

"We needed more space," says Heath co-owner Cathy Bailey, who had a studio in the neighborhood years ago. "The original building in Sausalito was built in 1959 with the agenda to be a dinnerware factory. Over the years, it's grown and we have no more space. The difference between the new Heath and the old Heath is that we do everything ourselves—sell directly, manufacture, and design in-house. We didn't want to build way out in the valley, away from everyone; we wanted to stay close to customers, in a vibrant environment."

Heath's new San Francisco home will eventually produce all of the company's tiles. The structure was built in 1917, with additions in the 1940s and 1950s. For most of its near 100-year life, it was an industrial laundry. One of the challenges Bailey and her husband, co-founder Robin Petravic, faced was finding an appropriately zoned building in the city. The neighborhood in which the factory is situated has seen a fair share of changes throughout the years, moving from industrial to residential and commercial. Condos and retail are common now, but San Francisco kept the original zoning in place so that some parcels would retain their original character.

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