Optic Arts

Optic ArtsLighting Design by Illuminate Lighting Design

Optic Arts wants to eliminate the complexity involved in installing flexible LED products and fixtures.
By Jim Harris

Optic Arts knows that flexible LED lighting, by nature, can be challenging for contractors to work with. It can require  extra effort to install, including the need to sometimes be cut in the field to fit an application.

The Monterey Park, Calif.-based manufacturer’s customizable LED products can help contractors overcome this challenge. “We want to build products that are easy to design with and easy to install,” CEO Jason Mullen says. “Removing complexity and making a custom product that is easy to use is what we live for.”

Optic Arts manufactures and assembles a configurable linear LED product based around a flexible LED strip that can be easily cut or bent. The strip can be shipped to contractors separately for field modification, or as part of a complete fixture. This distinguishes the company from many of its competitors that provide LEDs either one way or the other, Mullen notes.

“It’s completely up to [the contractor],” he adds. “We can build it to whatever extent they need depending on their allowed lead time. If we ship it as a box of raw material, we will provide connectors that will make it easy for contractors to install so it’s a better experience.”

The company assembles fixtures based on specifications provided by architects, lighting designers and interior designers. These specifications include the style of housing as well as housing color, color temperature and output.

‘The Extra Mile’

Optic Arts predominately markets its products to architects and designers, who then specify its LEDs into their projects.

Mullen and partners Dorian Hicklin and Mason Barker founded the company in 2014. All three founders have a background in LED lighting design and specification sales.

Optic Arts operates based on four core values. First and foremost among these is a “project first” mentality. All levels of the company, from its sales team to order processing and logistics, treat each project with care and not as “another order in the queue,” Mullen notes. Optic Arts box

“We will do whatever it takes to get a project done,” he says. “If there’s a problem on a job site, instead of wasting time finding out who or what caused the problem, we will send replacement equipment.”

The company’s second core value is that “profitability is a goal, not a philosophy.” Mullen says. “We will spend the money to make a project right and ensure everyone is successful and has a good experience.

“By doing that, we will of course be more profitable because we’re willing to go the extra mile every time,” he adds. “What makes us different is that we will stop to fix a mistake, even at our own expense.”

Optic Arts’ third core value is to provide application-direct product design. “Most lighting companies are founded by engineers,” Mullen says. “We’re artists at heart and understand that a great piece of technology is only as useful as its application.”

The company’s fourth core value is “people matter,” it says. “We believe that integrity is good business, and we’ve created a culture where people are treated with care, both inside and outside of our walls.”

Values in Action

On a recent project in New York, a contractor was in trouble.  The millwork drawings were not accurate and, as a result, the bill of materials was wrong. 

The contractor modified the runs to fit but realized that they had run out of product and many of the runs were no longer working. They had four days to turn the project over to the owner. 

Optic Arts immediately sent enough additional equipment, at no charge, to finish the project and dispatched a technician from Los Angeles to assist in completing the project. 

“This project represents all of our values in action. We sent connectors to simplify the modification, replaced the failed product, sent additional product and sent our best technician to make sure it all happened on time,” Mullen says. “The problem was not ours to fix, but we knew that in this situation, if we didn’t help it could have been a disaster for the contractor, and that’s unacceptable. ‘Finish the project’ is our mantra around here.”

A Versatile Source

Optic Arts’ commitment to its core values has led to exceptional growth during its three years in business. The company has expanded from its initial staff of four people to 48 employees and has increased its sales by roughly 700 percent since it started, Mullen says.

The retail and hospitality sectors are the company’s strongest. Optic Arts’ LEDs are the primary light source in every L.A. Fitness location in the country, and its products are used throughout the hotel tower component of the Metropolis megaproject in Los Angeles.

“We did all the room, corridors, public spaces, restaurant and bar lighting [in the hotel],” Mullen says. “The cool thing about our product is you can use it virtually anywhere; it’s a wildly versatile source of light.”

Optic Arts is expanding its work into the healthcare, tenant improvement and commercial task lighting sectors.

The company regularly introduces new products. As the first constant voltage dim to warm driver for LED strips with full programmability, VintageDim allows the user to implement a dim to warm effect based on their exact specifications. While there are other products on the market, their fixed dimming curves make them unable to adapt to a specifiers ideal vision or the changing conditions on a jobsite.

The PC-based VintageDim programming software allows tuning of the dim to warm curve to match personal preference, other light fixtures on the project or other environmental conditions. Once programmed, the device only needs a single 0-10v control input to execute the programmed curve, making this an incredibly easy product to install.

Further setting VintageDim apart from the competition is the fact that it is a fully engineered system comprised of the LED driver, dimming module and LED light source. This provides predictability to the process and ensures consistent end results.

Another new product, Slot .75, is the first of its kind in the market. While a number of manufactures offer a drywall thickness (typically 5/8-inch) recessed mud-in linear fixture, most use an acrylic or polycarbonate lens which limits the maximum lens length that can be shipped via normal freight methods. Slot utilizes a highly flexible extruded lens that can be shipped in seamless lengths of up to 100 feet by coiling it in a box. Seamless power re-feeding options allow for linear fixtures of unlimited length with a lens seam only once every 100 feet. In addition to the seamless nature of the lens, it fits tight against the light engine providing a mechanical mounting means that light engines in similar products lack. 

Optic Arts is currently finding ways to enhance the mechanical and optical designs of its products. “We are continuing to develop in terms of reducing complexity for our clients,” Mullen says.

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