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10 minutes with?

by Brooke Sever on Jan 17, 2012

Sven Peeters
Sven Peeters

Sven Peeters, managing director, Showtex Middle East, who says the recent purchase of a laser-cutting machine will mean creativity like never before in event textiles.

S&S: Tell us about Showtex in the Middle East.
Peeters: We started here six years ago, just me and my wife in an office in a villa because at the time, we had no power here in our current space in Sharjah Airport Free Zone. It was quite a challenging time because we had started the business from nothing, essentially.

So is it a franchise arrangement?
We are a subsidiary of Showtex’s HQ in Belgium, but I’m a partner here too. It was a tough start – we had to literally cut screens here at this site in the dark because of the lack of power, and sometimes we’d even pull the car up and shine the headlights in so we could see what we were doing!

Once we got power, we started off with a small warehouse but quickly realised it was going to be too small. So before we’d even officially launched, we had to expand the warehouse. We now have about 45 staff and we do everything on site from digital printing, the bending and welding of projection screens, all the technics, to frame-making.

We purchased a laser-cutter machine for fabrics about two months ago, which is very clever and is one of the biggest the manufacturer has ever produced - its five metres wide and 15 metres long.

It can cut fabric into any shape at all, there are no limitations. We can cut a shape out of the fabric and put it on a gauze, so that if you back-light it, you can see the silhouette of the cut out, for instance.

We recently used it for Evolutions project at the Dubai international Film Festival – there were lots of cut-out butterflies to tie in with the opening film, which was a 3D animation about butterflies.

So previously you would have done that by hand?
No we wouldn’t have been able to – the shapes that the machine can cut are impossible to do by hand, there has been no alternative previously so the creative possibilities have really been opened up.

What is your favourite project you’ve worked on?
The third anniversary of DIFC – we wrapped two buildings completely with projection material for 170 metre wide and 20 metre high projections and with a big kabuki drop in the middle.

We wrapped the buildings because they are almost entirely glass, and so too reflective for projections. The best part was that when people arrived, the projected images were of the buildings themselves – so it just looked like there was nothing out of the ordinary – there were some lights on in the offices and that type of thing.

Once the show started though, the projections changed and made it appear as if the buildings were moving apart – it really shocked everyone!

Because I ran the project myself, completely from A to Z, it was really memorable. Now, these days we have project managers so I’m less involved with the actual end result of installations.

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