Haute Secrets: Heath Ceramics Owner Catherine Bailey Shares Her Guide to SF & Sausalito

Catherine Bailey Heath Clay Studio
Catherine Bailey
Heath Clay Studio

Photo Credit: Renee Zellweger

Heath Ceramics is not just a Bay Area institution but, thanks to Catherine Bailey and Robin Petravic buying the Sausalito business from its 93-year-old founder, Edith Heath, in 2003, the iconic tableware and tile company’s dishes are in restaurants worldwide and its tiles are in luxurious homes and sophisticated businesses. Today, there is not just the factory but also curated showrooms in the Ferry Building, Los Angeles and a 60,000-square-foot facility in San Francisco’s northeast Mission neighborhood. Prior to taking the reins at Heath in 2003, each honed their skills and passion for making things—Petravic in product design engineering and Bailey in industrial design. Together, they bring their creative talents to Heath, honoring the company’s long history—Edith and her husband Brian founded the business in 1948—and unique relationship between craft and production—efforts that landed them the 2015 Cooper Hewitt National Design Award.

Book Cover--Tile Makes the Room

Petravic’s and Bailey’s book, “Tile Makes the Room,” published by Ten Speed Press, was released to rave reviews last fall. This month, Heath begins a collaboration with the famed Tartine Bakery and April 1 brings the launch of Heath Ceramics’ 2016 Summer Seasonal collection—with its palette reminiscent of the Golden Gate Bridge in its many foggy phases. We caught up with Bailey, who sets the direction and creative vision as Creative Director—Petravic manages all operations, manufacturing and business development as Managing Director—to share her guide to Sausalito and San Francisco.

Where were you born: New Jersey

How long in San Francisco: Since 1995

Neighborhood: Sausalito (home + work) and the Mission (work)

Occupation: Co-owner and Creative Director, Heath Ceramics

Favorite Restaurant: Rintaro: simply the best Japanese food – and one of the best spaces – around. We love Sylvan Brackett’s impeccable technique, the commitment to local food, and just the heart in all of it.

Best Sushi: Sushi Ran: Who’d believe that some of the best sushi in the country’s in Marin County, so close to where we live? (Yes, we feel lucky.)

Best Italian: Pizzetta 211: This San Francisco restaurant is the essence of local: it’s low-key, neighborhoody, simply exquisite. We love that it’s a restaurant that’s not all about growing too big and fancy, but just focused on great quality and ingredients.

Best ice cream: BiRite. Hands down, the best ice cream in town.

Best place for a romantic date: Manka’s in Olema. This place is just so good. Located off of Highway 1, north of San Francisco, it’s dreamy: an ex-hunting lodge that they turned into a hotel and restaurant. There was a fire a few years back and we were worried that this place either wouldn’t come back or would be somehow spoiled. But it’s come back better than ever. We love to stay in one of the cabins. They’re beautiful but the best part is the box of breakfast goodies you find outside of the door in the morning. That’s the right way to start the day.

Best Sunday brunch: Universal Café. We’ve been coming here for years (OK, decades), and when we’re in the City on the weekend it’s still one of our favorite places. Low-key (notice a trend here?), you can sit outside (the weather’s good in this part of the city) and you can just sit and talk and take in the world.

Best place for a power business meeting: Onsite at Heath! Seriously, that’s where we tend to meet people, power or not. There’s coffee from Blue Bottle, and soon there will be treats from Tartine’s Manufactory.

If you have out of town guests, which hotel would you recommend? We love Airbnb but in San Francisco friends stay in the Hayes Valley Inn. It’s a touch of old school San Francisco charm (which you see less and less these days) in the middle of the Hayes Valley area, home of no end of great restaurants, galleries, and places to shop.

Favorite shopping venue/boutique: Modern Appealing Clothing (aka MAC) – great clothing that both Robin and I love. Some of comes from designers you’ve heard from, some of it’s from local designers you might not have. Either way it’s the result of Ben and Chris Ospital’s vision of what great, wearable design is.
LemonTwist; a wonderful local designer Danette Scheib makes fresh, lovely clothes I love. And we love her spirit: in the summers, she puts on a Fashion Camp for kids at Heath and it’s so wonderful to have her spirit and the kids in the building.
Gimme Shoes. It’s THE place to go for great shoes from hard-to-find designers.

Favorite place to buy jewelry/watches: Heath, of course, and in particular the work of Julia Turner and Kirsten Muenster. Julia’s sense of color and scale and design is amazing, and Kirsten’s organic sensibilities and extraordinary workmanship is so special: I haven’t seen that kind of work before, and believe me, I look!

Best Spa: Cavallo Point, located in Fort Baker at the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge, is just so magical. And the spa there, The Healing Arts Center, is just so peaceful. Just the space and views are enough to bliss you out.

Favorite Charity Event: Glide. This is pure San Francisco at its best. Glide works with the disadvantaged in San Francisco and has a wide range of programs to serve but also bring together a real cross section of the city to support it. Their annual holiday jam is moving, uplifting, and incredible fun.

Favorite Cultural Event: FOG Design+Art. This event, which was just held in January, is San Francisco’s very own art fair. It brings in dealers from all over the world, but what I love is the incredible range of great work from some of our favorites like the Haas Brothers and Adam Silverman. We were excited to see so much ceramic work at the show this year!

Favorite Cultural Institution: Headlands Center for the Art. Marine Mammal Center

Best Steakhouse: I don’t eat meat!

Best Pizza: It has to be Pizzetta 211.

Best Lunch: Greenheart Foods, in SF. I love The Bowl (quinoa, kale, sweet potato, etc. with avocado.) Avatar, Sausalito serves up an incredibly eclectic menu of Indian/Mexican food, and you can usually find me eating blackened veggies over rice, or the pumpkin enchilada.

Best Gym/Athletic Facility: The outdoors! We live near some of the best hiking areas around…and as much as possible, we try to get to our house in Tahoe on weekends to get in some skiing.

Best Massage: I wish I had more time to get them, but my happy place would be Cavallo Point in Marin.

Best Limousine/Driving Service: I tend to drive myself, so it has to be our Volvo!

Best Museum/Exhibit: Capp Street – David Ireland House. David Ireland was an incredible conceptual artist and 500 Capp Street, in San Francisco, was his home that became one of his greatest art works. After his death, it was painstakingly restored – or should I say preserved, and was just re-opened this year. It’s beautiful, a living journey into his creativity.

Describe your city in three words: Eclectic, delicious, creative, foggy (yes, that’s four words.)

Photo used with permission from “Tile Makes the Room,” by Robin Petravic and Catherine Bailey, copyright © 2015, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. ; p. 96-97 ,San Francisco,
Photograph copyright © 2015 by Mariko Reed