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Heath Ceramics owners write the book on the craft of using tile

Heath Ceramics owners write the book on the craft of using tile
The Ace Hotel is photographed for the book "Tile Makes the Room," by Robin Petravic and Catherine Bailey of Heath Ceramincs. (Mariko Reed / Ten Speed Press / Penguin Random)

Tile is sometimes an afterthought at the start of a remodel or a design project, but Catherine Bailey and Robin Petravic are hoping their new book, "Tile Makes the Room," can inspire us to reorder our priorities.

"To us, tile isn't just surface material," says Bailey, who, with Petravic, is the owner of Heath Ceramics. "It's an integral enough material, with enough design potential, that if you integrate it into architecture or interior design more deeply, you can have something exponentially wonderful."

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Written over a two-year period, "Tile Makes the Room," is a testament to the material's versatility and depth. Featuring more than 50 projects — some using Heath tile — that span eras and are sourced from a number of countries, the book is a reminder that tile can drive the design of great spaces, adding color, depth, even softness to a room.

"I think there's often a misconception about tile," Petravic says. It can be more than a square, monochromatic grid. For the 1962 Parco Dei Principi Hotel in Sorrento, Italy, a project that is featured in the book, Mdernist architect Gio Ponti created 30 blue-and-white tile patterns drawn from images found in nature, including moons and leaves. His custom tiles are used in different combinations throughout the hotel, giving each room a unique story. Ceramic pebbles, also in blue and white, set into the reception, elevator and bar areas recall the laid-back seaside feeling of the Amalfi coast.

But Bailey and Petravic insist that tile doesn't always have to take center stage to pull a design together. At Farmshop Restaurant in Brentwood (designed by Los Angeles-based firm Commune and featured in the new book), classic green tile in a rectangular shape and solid color balance the palette of walnut, teal velvet, blackened steel and unfinished concrete found throughout the restaurant. "The tile they used was super simple," Bailey said. "It's not a crazy design, but the scale and texture created with tile were really successful. I think it's spectacular, and it will age well."

Bailey and Petravic also write about the nuances of tile, from its production to installation. Their biggest tip for those willing to explore the material? Be hands-on to get the best results. Bailey said, "It's really important to work with an installer with whom you're on the same page, who understands what you're looking for and the craft of tile. It's not just wallpaper."

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'Tile Makes the Room' book signing info

What: Authors Catherine Bailey and Robin Petravic will sign copies at a book launch party

Where: Heath Ceramics showroom, 7525 Beverly Blvd., L.A.

When: 2-4 p.m. Oct. 25

Info: (323) 965-0800; www.tilemakestheroom.com

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