Lane’s Creative Director Joff Casciani explores California and the Pacific Northwest
Whilst on our travels across the west coast of the USA, we made our first trip to San Francisco. A world famous city that to be honest, I’ve paid little attention to up until a few weeks before our arrival. When researching the local scene I discovered a design gem in what seemed to to be a largely industrial part of San Francisco.
Heath Ceramics is one of the USA's leading manufacturers of craft based, design led ceramics. This authentic US maker have manufactured in California since 1948 and in 2013 Heath opened a unique manufacturing and retail facility in San Francisco’s Mission District.
This is much more than just a factory shop - the facility is a large warehouse space where the manufacturing process is made highly visible to visitors. This ethic of buying a product where it is made is an outstanding feature of many forward thinking businesses in the American northwest and is evidenced through the huge movement of brew pubs.
Heath have taken this idea one step further by welcoming complementary producers into their space. The renowned US pioneers of slow fermentation bread Tartine have moved in, opening a space called ‘Manufactory’. This unique bakery mills its own grain, producing a range of products on site such as bread, pasta and pastries.
Whilst this offers a great shopping experience, it does a number of other things that are exciting too. It demonstrates that when complementary businesses work together, they can create clusters that can build a footfall, whilst avoiding sky high city centre rents. It also demonstrates how bigger businesses can support smaller businesses in a way that helps to diversify what’s on offer and cross-pollinates the customers from one business to another.
Connecting the customer to where a product is made and how it is made, as opposed to anonymous and unethical production on the other side of the world, connects people with what is on their doorstep. So give this pioneering location the thumbs up and show your support if you’re in San Francisco!
You can explore a micro version of the model by visiting our own cluster in Nottingham. Our new Lane Studio Shop gives customers the opportunity to see where we design and make our products (and meet us!) with the added experience of visiting Primary, the arts complex where we are located and Small Food Bakery, without a doubt the best bakery in town.
Most images from the Heath Ceramics website (and some taken by Joff)
If you like this, you might like...
'Drink This: Analog Coffee, Seattle'