See How This Artek + Heath Collaboration Came Together to Reimagine a Classic

We’re taking a look at a really cool collaboration between two renowned brands that merge over 150 years of designing and manufacturing experience. The Artek + Heath collection includes the iconic Tea Trolley 900 and Stool 60 that were reimagined by Heath to feature exclusive designs. To mark the first Deconstruction of 2019, Artek and Heath Ceramics are giving us a tour of how this collaboration came together.

See How This Artek + Heath Collaboration Came Together to Reimagine a Classic

Designed by Aino and Alvar Aalto in 1937, the Tea Trolley 900 was inspired by British tea culture as well as by the Japanese woodwork and architecture they admired. To celebrate this beloved Artek design, Heath developed a series of striking ceramic tile tops, drawing inspiration from historic designs and recent Heath Clay Studio experiments. Made in Finland, the trollies are brought to Heath SF where tiles – individually glazed, ensuring each is unique – are mounted by hand. This particular glaze was developed in 2016 by Tung Chiang and Heath master glazer Winnie Crittenden. Glaze is sprayed onto a plastic sheet, resulting in beads that form organically. The plastic is used to transfer the beads of glaze onto the clay. Running fingers along the plastic with different types of pressure results in a lovely glaze variation.

The Artek + Heath collection is a collaborative collection from two kindred brands that began designing and manufacturing in the 1930s and 40s.

Tea Trolley 900 in Universe

Universe glaze

The collection features colors and glazes created from experiments in application, unexpected glaze combinations, and inspiration from vintage Heath tile installations that remain in the Heath Sausalito factory today. These are applied to Artek’s iconic Stool 60 and Tea Trolley 900, both created by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. Experimental glazes from the 1940s meet innovative wood bending techniques from 1930s, resulting in a fresh and relevant collection.

Artek factory in 1937 \\\ © Copyright exploitation rights with Artek

Founded in 1935 in Helsinki, Finland by Alvar and Aino Aalto, Maire Gullichsen, and Nils-Gustav Hahl, Artek’s original goal was “to sell furniture and to promote a modern culture of living by exhibitions and other educational means.”

Artek factory in 1937 \\\ © Copyright exploitation rights with Artek

In keeping with the radical spirit of its founders, Artek today remains an innovative player in the world of modern design – as seen in the fresh & relevant Heath + Artek collaboration.

The Artek Tea Trolley 900 was inspired by British tea culture, which Aino and Alvar Aalto had become acquainted with though their many travels, as well as by the Japanese woodwork and architecture they admired. The striking Tea Trolley 900, which features ceramic tiles and a rattan basket, was first launched internationally at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1937, a traditionally functionalist piece of furniture embellished with pared down multicultural references. Versatile and full of character, Tea Trolley 900 is the perfect centrepiece for enjoying anything from breakfast to high tea or cocktails.

Tea Trolley 900 \\\ © Artek Collection / Alvar Aalto Museum

Heath has designed six unique tile tops inspired by the vintage tile found around their Sausalito factory as well as their recent Heath Clay Studio glaze experiments applied by hand, making each piece unique.​ ​The Trolley is made and assembled in Finland, and the tiles are made and installed in San Francisco.

Tile installation inside Heath Sausalito dinnerware factory. \\\ ©Heath Ceramics

The glazes on the Tea Trolley tile tops were inspired by the vintage tile installations at Heath Sausalito, many dating back to Heath founder Edith Heath’s time.

©Heath Ceramics

Line blends at Heath Sausalito, used in new glaze development.

©Heath Ceramics

Unfired and fired test tiles for the Landscape design of the Artek + Heath collaboration Tea Trolley 900.

©Heath Ceramics

Heath Ceramics Master Glazer Winnie Crittenden, niece of Edith Heath. Winnie works on the Maze glaze for the tea trolley tile tops. The Maze glaze is created by placing tiles on a spinning wheel. Glaze is applied with a squeeze bottle, creating concentric lines that are graphic and precise.

©Heath Ceramics

Mel, the special projects glazer who works closely with Winnie, creating the Penumbra glaze seen on the Tea Trolley 900 from the Artek + Heath Collection. Heath uses the same pouring technique when creating color swatches for new glazes.

From the Artek factory, located just outside of Turku, Finland \\\ ©Artek

Solid birch planks drying slowly and up to a year just outside the factory.


Cut solid birch planks waiting to be split into lamellas; part of the production process of Tea Trolley 900 frame.


Hydraulic press with mold of Tea Trolley 901 loop. A similar technique is used for Tea Trolley 900.


Tea Trolley linoleum tops being milled with CNC-machine.


Heath + Artek Tea Trolley shown here in Deep Sea – this is an evolution of a layered glaze that Heath has been using on tile and vases. When these two glazes are layered, the proportions of each glaze create a wide range of shades and textures. Heath accentuated the variation to create an atmospheric effect over the surface of the tea trolley.

Tea Trolley 900 in Deep Sea

Tea Trolley 900 in Maze

Tea Trolley 900 in Maze

Tea Trolley 900 in Penumbra

Tea Trolley 900 in Penumbra

Tea Trolley 900 in Orbit

Tea Trolley 900 in Orbit

Tea Trolley 900 in Landscape

Tea Trolley 900 in Landscape



Author: Connor Renwick

I'm a store mad guy who loves sharing the best and quirkiest shopping experiences around. I live for designer fashion, Versace, high end furniture, jewellery and travel.

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