The vases at Heath Ceramics’ Los Angeles outpost, photographed by Abby Ward
You can find them at Alice Waters’ famed Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California. They’re in the permanent collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Tom Ford collects them. Spike Jonze, too. And in 2015, they won a National Design Award from Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

We’re talking about plates. And bowls. Vases. Mugs. All by Heath Ceramics in Sausalito, California.

The company story begins in the early 1940s with — female entrepreneur alert! — a woman by the name of Edith Heath, who began making ceramics and garnered raves for her elegantly minimalist designs that incorporated single kiln-firings, done at a lower-than-normal temperature, using material from local clay beds. By 1948, she officially launched Heath Ceramics with the help of her husband, Brian, an inventor. Fast-forward to 2003, the firm’s next big milestone: another couple, Robin Petravic and Catherine Bailey, who had recently moved into the neighborhood, stumbled on the factory, then in decline. They snapped it up, attracted to the fact that the entire manufacturing chain took place on single site — and that things still very much revolved around handicraft, with artisans who had been there for decades. In fact, process is as important to Heath Ceramics as the final product. If you’re in town, swing by — they give factory tours so you can see what happens behind the scenes.