Heath was founded by the ceramicist Edith Heath and her husband Brian in 1948 in Sausalito, a lush suburb of San Francisco. She made a name for the business, but it hit financial trouble in the 1970s. Robin Petravic and Catherine Bailey acquired it in 2003 from the Heath Trust, and have taken it from strength to strength over the last decade. Most recently, they reinforced their line of tiles with a book about tile’s role in interior design, Tile Makes the Room (2015), and won a design award from the Cooper Hewitt—Smithsonian Design Museum. Ask Petravic and Bailey to describe The Boiler Room, their now one-year-old venture, and they sum it up: “It’s a one-of-a-kind space where we show, share, and sell one-of-a-kind work that explores the intersections of art, craft, and design.” They generally avoid the term “gallery,” though everything on view is for sale.
The space launched in 2014 with a show by ceramicist Stan Bitters and has since featured the work of makers and collaborators close to the Heath family. (Monroe collaborated on a project several years ago in Heath’s L.A.-based studio before being invited to create work for an exhibition.) Thus far, artists featured in The Boiler Room are those that also create collections for Heath. Though this isn’t a prerequisite for Petravic and Bailey, the exhibition program has given Heath’s existing collaborators an exciting opportunity to work bigger and experiment more. “We want to share the work of artists we believe in and want to reach communities that may not have engaged with art before,” Petravic and Bailey say, “or who might be put off by the typical ‘white wall’ gallery experience.”