Artek’s midcentury icons given a new look by Heath Ceramics

Artek’s midcentury icons given a new look by Heath Ceramics

‘As so often is the case with interesting things, this collaboration began with a chance encounter.’ says Marianne Goebl, managing director at Finnish design brand Artek. The collaboration in question is a new interpretation of Artek icons, produced together with California’s Heath Ceramics.

In 2016, Goebl explains, a conversation occurred on the lawn at a Cooper Hewitt summer party between team members from Artek and Heath Ceramics. Not long after, the two companies, recognising shared affinities for natural materials and conscientious craftsmanship, made the decision to partner on a series of limited-edition products.

Artek + Heath Aalto 900 trolley

Detail view of Aalto 900 trolley with ‘Deep Sea’ finish, from the Artek + Heath collection, by Artek and Heath Ceramics

Released in October, the full Artek & Heath collection includes six iterations of Artek’s iconic trolley, each topped with a unique tiled surface that honour Heath’s past with designs inspired by vintage tiles found around its Sausalito factory. Six different tile top designs have been made using new experimental glazing techniques that have been applied by hand. Each design is made and assembled in a limited run of six in Finland before the tiles are installed in San Francisco.

The collaboration also includes fresh takes on Artek’s Stool 60. First, a nesting set created in a trio of custom heights and Heath dinnerware glazes; and then also in a silk-screened ‘Universe’ glaze version, which was made with the help of acclaimed American printmaker David Dodde and transformed by House Industries. A matching ceramic Coupe platter is available separately.

Artek + Heath serving platter

Serving platter with ‘Universe’ finish, from the Artek + Heath collection, by Artek and Heath Ceramics

According to Goebl, the two companies’ aim is to delight both longtime fans and a wider audience of design enthusiasts, who appreciate the timeless and the topical in equal measure. ‘We feel that there are conscious consumers out there who care about how things are made,’ she says. ‘These are the people we hope to reach.’

The joint effort is capped off by an installation created by LA design studio The Archers, on view at the Vitra New York showroom through mid-December. Inviting visitors to imagine what might have been, had Edith Heath and Alvar Aalto — co-founders of Heath Ceramics and Artek, respectively — had a fateful encounter of their own decades earlier. The installation depicts a fictional meeting in a hotel conference room in the early 1960s, littered with evidence of a fruitful exchange: paperwork, a slide reel, ceramic samples at rest in an open suitcase.

Holding court is a finished Aalto 900 Trolley adorned in custom glazed Heath tiles — the result of both the imaginary collaboration between Heath and Aalto, and the real one that occurred between their modern-day companies. §

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