Our Heritage

From its roots as a small lantern studio, The Urban Electric Co. has grown over the past decade into a global presence in the shelter industry, celebrating a rich heritage of distinctive bench-made lighting fixtures. The company exudes the very best of past and future, and is passionate about protecting both the tradition and sustainability of artisanal craft.

Since its founding in 2003, the company has become one of the most highly recognized lighting companies in the industry as well as an important contributor to the successful return of American manufacturing and a key player in the global design community.

From its headquarters in Charleston, South Carolina, the company services an international client base of top interior designers and architects in the residential, hospitality and contract segments. The company’s designs regularly find placement in high-profile homes, restaurants and historic restorations from Beverly Hills to the Seychelles and consistently garner acclaim from top design publications such as Architectural Digest, Elle Décor, Interior Design and World of Interiors.

Each of the company’s products is bench-made and hand-finished at its 95,000 sq. ft. headquarters, which houses its talented teams of engineers, sales and marketing professionals, designers, craftsmen and artisans. The company prides itself on manufacturing processes that secure the growth and sustainability of artisanal craft for the future by using modern techniques that enhance and refine the hand-build approach as opposed to replacing it.

The Urban Electric Co.’s catalogued collection includes more than 300 interior and exterior fixtures designed by in-house Creative Director Michael Amato as well as several outside collaborations with some of the most renowned architects and designers in the industry including Darryl Carter, Mark Maresca, Martin Brudnizki, Oro Bianco, Steven Gambrel and Taylor Howes [View Collections by Designer]. In addition, the company offers one of the most extensive custom programs in the industry, allowing for true one-off design execution.

The Urban Electric Company is proud to call Charleston its home. The company and its employees have made community philanthropy a core value, including involvement with Pet Helpers, Disabilities Board of Charleston, and the Lowcountry Food Bank. Learn more about our Culture and Values.

As of 2013, the company proudly celebrated a decade of American craftsmanship. To mark this anniversary and to honor the company’s heritage in lantern-making, we released a special collection of ten lanterns designed by Creative Director Michael Amato and the company’s other design collaborators. Read about our 10th Anniversary.


Dave Dawson – President/Founder

Though Dave Dawson is passionate about design and craft, he certainly did not start The Urban Electric Company with a typical background for this work.

After earning a law degree from The College of William and Mary, Dave practiced environmental litigation in North Carolina for several years. And after that, he worked in San Francisco as an executive with an internet start-up.

In 2002, Dave brought this varied background to bear on an unusual concept at the time – establishing an American manufacturer to deliver hand-made, high-quality distinctive lighting to architects and designers. American manufacturing was suffering a steep decline during those years, but Dave believed firmly that the marketplace would reward a company that focused on original design, uncompromising craftsmanship and impeccable service – and he believed specifically that American craftsmen were better equipped than any in the world to deliver such a product. Today, The Urban Electric Company services an international clientele of interior designers and architects with a full collection of both interior and exterior fixtures as well as one of the most extensive custom offerings in the industry.

Having accumulated a wealth of industry-specific knowledge, Dave is regarded as a leader in the lighting industry nationally. Now with more than 15 years of small business management and business development, Dave’s vision and guidance have helped to create a company that is constantly pushing the boundaries of a once-antiquated view of manufacturing, by bringing the company forward with an approach that allows for sustainability into the future. That constant focus on progress has catapulted the company into a leadership position within the industry.

Dave lives in Charleston, SC with his wife Jennifer and their sons Jack and James.