In 2013, Tung Chiang set a design challenge for himself. Each year, on a journey of exploration and evolution, the Clay Studio Director at Heath Ceramics asked himself, What is the future of design at Heath? The question has lead him to design ten collections, each one building on the legacy set in place by Edith Heath. In Tung’s 10th and final collection to the Design Series, he realized that he already had the answer: it was – essentially – himself.
Tung shares that if he had known then what he knew now, he would have modified his original inquiry to How do I evolve while staying true to Heath’s core? “The future of Heath is not solely in my hands but my work holds a piece of the ongoing legacy. Being true to myself and understanding what I’ve learned is a far more important outcome than completing the series or finding an answer to the question of what is the future of design at Heath,” the designer explains.
In a perfectly fitting conclusion (a pun in and of itself), Tung’s final Design Series 10 is called Between Open and Close, a series of lidded objects that open and close, a poetic metaphor to the new era of the Heath Clay Studio. Each piece comprises three quintessential parts: two forms and a split line that represents where the two touch to store the hidden secret inside. In this collection, however, the surprise is both the objects stored and the way in which it is concealed.
To further commemorate the milestone, Tung also designed Present Ten, a special collection of several pieces, each one housing ten objects representing the past ten Design Series. Woodwork by Eddie Aye perfectly encases each item.
What’s next for the upcoming era of Heath? While Tung has no plans to leave, he says that he will be focusing on his team, “helping [them] explore deeper and further with an open door.” That door is not a metaphor either. The Heath Clay Studio, originally on the second story in the Heath San Francisco building, has been relocated to the Boiler Room, aptly named for the pair of massive boilers from the 1930s. This new space functions as a gallery and an open showcase of Heath’s emerging work. It has, and will continue to, host workshops, tours, and daily visits from the public. “It’s an unforgettable space in look, feel, and experience that holds Clay Studio’s most unique work, with new shapes and glaze techniques going from kiln to gallery table. It’s not to be missed, which is why its doors are open,” Tung announces. On the gallery wall is a painted manifesto that declares the intention of the space:
How do you bring ideas to life? For us, it is with our hands.
Heath Clay Studio is a space dedicated to exploration and creativity. Within this space, a small team of craftspeople use their hands to bring objects to life, one piece at a time.
Meet Jay, Jeff, and Nora, our skilled team in the clay studio. Every day, they wheel the clay and dip into the glaze to create something truly special.
In this beautifully lit space we call the Boiler Room, we invite you to enjoy the silence of the wheel, the dance of their hands, and witness the beauty of the work that is created with love.
Heath Clay Studio Director
Present Ten and the pieces from Design Series Ten: Between Open and Close are available at heathceramics.com.