For luxury lighting producer Mavisten Edition, it’s all about the light.
Sure, the company wants its lamps, pendants and chandeliers to look great whether they are turned on or off, and co-founders Michael Almodova and Eric Hsieh spend a lot of time getting the details right — details like solid brass bases, cord exits rimmed with metal rings and cloth cords, never plastic.
But Mavisten Edition’s mission is to bring “the ‘golden hour’ of the California sunset” — that warm glow that mellows brightness and shadows — “into homes across the globe.”
And it focused first on perfecting its LED bulbs. “Our goal is to show that the lightbulb is the most important part of the lamp because that’s how it performs. The fixture is the jewelry around it,” Almodova says.
Almodova has strong feelings about LEDs, marveling at their long-lasting energy efficiency but frustrated by the too-cool light and flickering found in many of them. “I find that people who make them are boosting lumens out of the bulb, and I’m thinking, “No. The old-fashioned bulbs were never about lumens. It’s about atmosphere and ambience.’ Eric and I just started tinkering and thought, ‘Let’s make beautiful LEDs and bring them into the home,’” he says.
“We started with the core of the bulbs,” Almodova continues. “And it took us about two years of tinkering to get the rosy-yellow glow we wanted and to find the right chips so that the bulbs are high performing. We obsessed about the chip, getting the chip just right.”
The company’s nostalgic-look Emberline bulbs come in several sizes and shapes, with prices ranging from $13 for a small tube to $189 for a large globe. The company is developing two other bulb categories, a matte white light for living spaces and a bright white light for task-oriented rooms like baths.
(Almodova has become something of a lighting evangelist, spending a good amount of his time on Instagram answering consumers’ questions about the proper bulb, whether they purchased the lamp or fixture from Mavisten Edition or not.)
With the company’s bulbs perfected, the lighting fixtures came next, starting with its Copernica collection, a celestially inspired group named after astronomer Nicolaus Coperinus. Brass rings orbit filament bulbs. Mouth-blown smoked glass shades align with the rings to create the illusion of a sphere. “It’s kind of Tom Ford sexy,” Almodova says. Coming soon to the Copernica collection are a white opal glass shade, a black chrome finish, and high-gloss metal shades in dark blue, oxblood and black.
Mavisten Edition designers have rooted other collections in history. The clean-lined Far pendants, with metal shades available in three finishes, were inspired by industrial lamps used along airfield taxiways during the 1940s. Details and silhouettes of the company’s Amplitude fixtures and lamps are reminiscent of vintage acoustic loudspeakers and radio bulbs.
The company’s newest lamp is the Waverider, with a smoke colored, crackled glass globe surrounding an Emberline bulb, all atop a solid brass base. Combined, the materials create a light that resembles a flickering candle, casting “magic shadows” against surfaces, Almodova says. The Waverider retails for $249 and comes in an origami-style gift box.
While producing its own collections, Mavisten Edition also creates private-label lighting for design-focused brands.
“We like working with a lot of materials — coloring concrete, using cast metals. Right now, we’re doing wood. We’re getting into rechargeable (solar) lamps. We’re always pushing ourselves,” Almodova says.
Mavisten Edition is building a customer base of high-end retailers and doesn’t sell through online behemoths like Amazon or Wayfair. It also has developed a to-the-trade program for interior designers, particularly those who appreciate and understand the nuances of light.
Almodova says designers, private-label clients and high-end hospitality customers all appreciate the company’s 3D modeling technology, which it calls “What You See Is What You Get.” The company can use it to show different finishes and component materials, not just as product silhouettes, but in a living room or hotel lobby.
Where invention and design intersect
Almodova and Hsieh, who co-founded San Francisco-based Mavisten Edition in 2018, met at a trade show in Hong Kong. Almodova studied product design at Stanford University, and then went on to do retail design for the Gap in Asia, Europe and the United States. He transitioned to furniture and lighting design, first at Pottery Barn Kids and later RH. Most recently, he was senior design director for Arhaus, where he created furniture, lighting and decor. Hsieh, whose family has a lighting factory in Taiwan, is an expert in sourcing and manufacturing and has worked with design-focused European brands like Hay and Menu.
It’s an ideal partnership: Almodova loves design but also grew up tinkering and building things with his dad, Julian Almodova; Hsieh has a strong production background but understands and appreciates good design. When the two met, “it was just this immediate bond,” Almodova says.
The company’s name is a mashup of “maverick” (for cultivating an independent spirit) and “tungsten” (as a nod to old-fashioned lightbulbs). “We are inspired by architecture and the past,” Almodova says, “but we want to take a modern approach, to be different, to be innovative, to go against the grain.”
In a bit of serendipity, the company secured headquarters space at 202 Green St., on the site where Philo T. Farnsworth invented and patented the first operational television system in 1927. Famed San Francisco architect Lawrence Halprin once occupied the space, too. “We still have (Halprin’s) drafting tables,” Almodova says, gleeful about the fact that the site’s intersecting history of invention, science and design mirrors his company’s focus.
Mavisten Edition appreciates the LED bulb for its energy efficiency and strives to create environmentally sustainable practices throughout its business. It uses paper and cardboard certified by the Forest Stewardship Council in its packaging, as well as compostable packing peanuts. The company is investigating a switch to biodegradable plastic bags. But this is a luxury brand, so it adds gracious touches, too. In each product box, the company includes an instruction booklet in English, Spanish and French tucked into sticker-sealed envelope and also a microfiber cleaning cloth.
A focus on sustainability
“With Mavisten Edition, we have the opportunity to reinvent every part of the process and make it more design-forward,” Almodova says. “I’ve always gravitated toward an Epicurean philosophy where you bring things into your life that you covet and that you love — and that you’re going to hold onto for a long time. If it’s not something that you’re going to hold onto and like, why bring it in? It just becomes clutter.”
Eventually, Almodova would like to expand into other home goods. “But I want to make sure it has our point of view,” he says of any future category extensions — the point of view of designers, of inventors, of mavericks.