Urban Electric lighting

growing up...

Urban Electric lighting

2002

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Dave and Jen Dawson move from San Francisco to Charleston and begin renovations on a historic home downtown. Frustrated with the lack of meaningful and unique lighting options for their project, they open a showroom in the emerging design district on Upper King Street and dive headfirst into the shelter industry.

Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting

2003

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The Dawsons meet Michael Amato who is a customer in their store and talk him into helping them design a collection. With a proper design background, Michael quickly falls in love with the concept and joins as full-time Creative Director.

They struggle to find a manufacturing partner, so with a combination of excitement and trepidation, they decide to make the fixtures themselves in a 500 sq. ft. space on Romney Street.

Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting

2003-2005

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The first workshop is tiny but busy. As family members pitch in to help, it becomes an all-hands-on-deck effort. Michael gets busy designing a collection, while the Dawsons quickly educate themselves on lantern making.

Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting

2004

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The company produces its first catalog, a rather simple set of laminated note cards on a D-ring.

They launch their first collaboration with Charleston architect Mark Maresca, who designs an assortment of sconces and lanterns for the growing collection.

Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting

2004-2005

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The first ad campaign appears in Southern Accents. With the increased exposure and demand, the company moves to a larger building in the West Ashley community of Charleston. The space is quickly outgrown.

Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting

2005

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One of Michael's earliest designs, the Chisholm Hall lantern instantly becomes a classic and a perennial client favorite—six additional iterations and countless customizations have followed.

Michael's selection of Benjamin Moore's Wythe Blue for the lantern becomes a signature color in the company's repertoire.

Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting

2006

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Dave finds a soaring loft space in a historic red brick warehouse (circa 1906) on the Old Naval Yard and falls in love with its industrial charm. The company renovates and settles into its new 27,000 sq. ft. home.

Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting

2006

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The new factory proves itself not only as a beautiful place to work but a fun spot for entertainment and inspiration as well.

Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting

2007

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The historic office of the White House asks the company to design a fixture to replace some flush mounts along the Rose Garden. Despite his best efforts, Dave can't close the deal and it is introduced into the collection as The 1600 lantern instead.

Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting

2007

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During this period, our team expands dramatically, and our apprenticeship program launches, initiating the first wave of master craftsmen and a new career path for employee growth and development.

Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting

2009

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The ad campaign gets updated, and the company experiments with a year-long pop up showroom in Atlanta.

Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting

2009

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President and Mrs. Obama commission the company to produce a custom lantern for the private residence at the White House. Master Craftsmen Jeff Peek and Tony Prete execute the piece, while young Jack Dawson handles final inspection.

Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting

2011

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With a growing team of designers, craftsmen, and engineers, the company codifies its spirit of continuous improvement with its new internal motto.

Also the official portrait of long-time CFO and business partner Sean Sykes is unveiled.

Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting

2012

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To expand the training and apprenticeship efforts, "UECo University" is launched internally. Appropriately enough, it is introduced with caps, gowns and a marching band.

Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting

2013

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The company updates its website to include installation photography and better categorization features.

Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting

2013

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The company collaborates with designer and long-time client Steven Gambrel on a series of pendants and sconces. The collection is incredibly well received and a second collection is added several years later.

Malplaquet shown in Benjamin Moore #2029-10 Basil Green paint selection finish with bronze accents and partially etched glass.
Urban Electric lighting

2013

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Quick Ship is launched, becoming one of the only programs of its kind to offer a completely made-to-order assortment within a rapid timeframe.

Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting

2013

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We celebrate our first decade with a collection of specially designed lanterns from each of our collaborators.

Michael creates the Cosy lantern and insists that it be featured with neon colors, a bold but inspired move.

Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting

2014

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The company expands on its storied reputation for client service with an in-house white glove program called Fleet. The first office in Los Angeles proves to be invaluable to clients, and offices are added in New York, Miami and Chicago.

Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting

2015

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With continued growth comes a need for more space. The company secures and renovates the ground floor of their building to give it 65,000 sq. ft. for manufacturing. A cafe complete with full-time barista is also added during this renovation.

Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting

2015

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The company expands its collaborations with a series of collections from London-based designers, including Martin Brudnizki and Nick Jeanes of MBDS.

Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting

2016

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The company introduces the Pop. With over 50,000 combinations, it is perhaps the most adaptable sconce of all time. It also becomes one of the first patents that the company secures.

Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting

2016

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With the team now approaching 150 people, the company increases its footprint by adding an adjacent historic building on the Old Naval Yard to house its milling and fabrication operations.

This brings the company's facilities to a total of 120,000 sq. ft.

Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting

2017

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Ron Durgee, one of the first master craftsmen, retires after being part of the whole journey. His influence has been felt by many younger craftsmen who celebrate his last day with an homage to his signature look.

Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting

2017

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The advertising campaign is updated to reflect the evolution of the brand's aesthetic.

The Yves flush mount is introduced, quickly becoming the most successful fixture in the company's history.

Yves Flushmount shown in hewn brass finish with pot white glass. Interiors by Carlyle Design.
Urban Electric lighting

2018

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The Dawsons celebrate the opening of the London creative studio with Michael.

Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting

2018

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The company marks fifteen years with a suitably creative cake. Now with a team of nearly 240 people, unfortunately not everyone gets a piece.

Urban Electric lighting
Hull shown in hewn brass finish and Benjamin Moore #2036-10 Cat's Eye Green custom powder coat match accents and opal glass. Interiors by Ken Fulk.

2018

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For years, the company has been part of a number of high profile commercial projects, including Augusta National, The Ivy Collection of cafes along with numerous Soho House, Four Seasons and St. Regis hotels. That pace continues with recent installations like Annabel's, Eleven Madison Park and Legacy Records.

Needles shown in vintage finish with vintage accents and translucent antique mirror on milk glass. Interiors by Martin Brudnizki.
Urban Electric lighting

2018

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The website undergoes a complete bottom-up redesign, that includes all-new product photography, hundreds of additional installation shots, and fresh background features like this timeline.

Urban Electric lighting