Just My Type

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By Diana Budds / Published by Dwell
Heath’s latest collaboration with House Industries yields a clock whose box hints at the typographic treat inside.

Step inside Heath Ceramics’ showrooms and there’s no mistaking what the company is known for: minimalist pottery that celebrates everyday moments such as drinking coffee, eating cereal, and, now, telling time. After a successful collaboration with House Industries on a series of address numbers, Heath began a conversation with the Delaware-based type foundry and design studio on a line of clocks.

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“We don’t use the package as advertising; we use it to help people understand what’s inside—to feel and enjoy the design, integrity, and quality of the product before opening the box.” —Megan Sanguinetti, designer at Heath Ceramics

"There was a great back and forth about what we could do with clay, what they could do with type, and finding the sweet spot in the middle that sings to both of those things," says Megan Sanguinetti, a graphic designer at Heath. 

"We ended up keeping it very simple—letting the clay, glaze, and forms do all the talking," says Andy Cruz, House Industries’ cofounder and art director. 

Packaging was an early part of the design process, as Heath knew there would be a challenge in getting the seven-pound piece safely through shipping, stocking on retail shelves, and eventually travelling home with a customer. After testing various scenarios and experimenting with materials, including mushroom-based foam, Sanguinetti and her team selected cardboard because it’s recyclable, cost-effective, and sturdy. The box top is on a hinge and lifts up to reveal the clock. Little tape or glue is used, so buyers can repurpose the package. "The simplicity and the functionality immediately give you a sense of what our values are at Heath," Sanguinetti says. 

To adorn the exterior, House Industries chose a pattern of numbers and punctuation marks rendered in Yorklyn Stencil, the custom typeface that House Industries developed for its clockfaces. "The box will rarely be seen after the clock goes up, but if it’s found down the road, we wanted people to be excited about seeing House Industries’ work on there," Cruz says.  

Cruz also designed the poster-size hanging guide tucked inside every box—another element that speaks to the designers’ meticulous attention to detail. "The whole experience—from the very moment of seeing it on store shelves to opening it to pulling it out and hanging it on the wall—needed to feel representative of the clock itself," Sanguinetti says.