ShowTex is a worldwide leader in inventing, manufacturing and installing innovative flame retardant fabrics, tracks and motion control systems for achieving the creative vision of theatre, event and entertainment professionals.
Did you know that in addition to an office in Hong Kong, ShowTex Asia has two offices in Shanghai as well? And did you hear about the installation they did at Universal Beijing in the middle of the pandemic? After a period of both ups and downs, challenges and opportunities, it's now time for an update on how things are going. We talked to Jan Blomme, managing director of ShowTex Asia.
|ShowTex Creative Hub in Shanghai|
When we moved to Hong Kong in 2013, we took over the existing office that was set up in 2007 and further developed it to what it is today; a fully operational office with a well stocked warehouse, a workshop, sales staff, technicians, project managers...
Then in 2016, we opened two offices in Shanghai. In Pudong, we keep most of the stock, so we established our warehouse there. The office in Puxi serves more as a creative centre as the marketing department and draftsmen are working from Puxi.
Let me first explain which markets these are. The office in Hong Kong focusses on Asia ex China, as we say: from Singapore to Southeast Asia, Macau, Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Vietnam. ShowTex Shanghai focuses on China, from Xishuangbanna to Harbin.
But yes, we do notice a difference in customer needs. Hong Kong traditionally is a very conservative theatre market. We have orders and installation requests for fabrics and hardware for a lot of theatres, opera houses and multifunctional venues. A lot of school projects as well. Here and there we get a request for events, while in China 90% of what we do is large-scale events.
We’ve worked on so many marvellous projects. One of the first milestone projects of ShowTex Hong Kong was the House of Dancing Water. This fixed installation required water-resistant fabrics for their water theatre, which lead to ShowTex installing Velours Paris CS masking drapes. This was in fact the first of many fruitful collaborations with Franco Dragone, as we also provided motors, roll-up and reveal systems, printed and laser cut fabrics… for the Dai show, the Taihu show, and other touring performances from Dragone and Cirque de Soleil.
|Cindy Chao Beyond Time and Space|
Some other remarkable projects are the Singapore National Day opening ceremony and the beautiful fixed installation in the M+ Museum. Meanwhile in Shanghai, we’ve worked on a lot of memorable large-scale events. From the recurring Cindy Chao exhibitions to the touring mirrors by Leandro Erlich, we’ve collaborated with plenty of top-notch designers and architects who saw our products and created magic with them. The installation of 5000 sqm of printed fabrics in Universal studio Bejing that happenbed during the pandemic was really a milestone project as well, that solidified the independence of the Shanghai team. So proud to be a part of all those project realisations.
And then there are all the fantastic motor shows we worked on. In China, you have so many car brands that want to launch their latest car model using a spectacular reveal. ShowTex being the reveal company, it's really our speciality to unveil products in an unforgettable way. And we've got hundreds of different ways to do that, so it's always fun to work on these types of projects.
On the lookout for inspiration for your car show?
The most popular ShowTex product is in my opinion GiantMirror. This lightweight mirror comes in different colours and transparency levels. Want to play with transparency and reflection? Then the two-way mirror seals the deal. By putting light behind the material, it becomes fully transparent, but leave the light out and it will reflect like an actual mirror. This is perfect for reveal setups, but we can also create infinity effects, inflatables...
|Morpheus Macau © Activation Group Hong Kong|
Another product that is in very high demand is HiSpeed Reveal. This is a spectacular reveal system that pulls a piece of fabric away in a flash. Perfect for swift and impactful product reveals, like the one we did in the Morpheus Hotel in Macau. With one push of a button, we’ve revealed an entire ceiling.
“If you blink, you miss the reveal.
HiSpeed Reveal is so spectacular, people love it!”
And then, of course, we have the velvets. They are very popular for fixed installations like theatres. The Delta velvet is the widest velvet on the market. An in-house ShowTex development; synthetic, cost effective, 2m wide with limited shrinkage and it's inherently flame-retardant. And this fantastic material can be used in both hot and humid climates. I think this is one of the favourites, if not the preferred velvet in Asia.
I do deal with numbers a lot, and since 50% of the staff doesn’t speak English, I have to delegate often as well. It’s part of what needs to be done. But it’s true, I’m quite hands-on. I like to go out, prospect, meet customers. Always thrilling to break open new markets, prospect and travel. The result of having a sales background, I guess.
I’ve always been quite a ‘site guy’ as well. I like to see the results of the installation work of our technical teams. There’s nothing more exciting than entering a show 15 minutes before it starts and feel the anticipation in the room. Everybody is on edge, focused to make the show a success.
“I really love this, so I'll for sure keep doing it!”
|ShowTex Hong Kong team|
Even though the challenging times are not yet fully behind us, I do feel that there are a lot of opportunities.
“After three years of setbacks, the team in Asia is stronger than ever.”
Hong Kong will surely continue to develop, since the neighbouring countries are investing a lot in their markets. We have Expo 2025, Osaka Kansai, coming up in a couple of years. Big sporting events are organised all throughout the region.
China has the biggest car market in the world. And ShowTex brings unique value to this market as a Belgian company. We have products that no Chinese customer ever worked with before and effects that no other company in China ever realised. So there are exciting times ahead of us, and we're looking forward to seeing what awaits us in the upcoming years.
On the lookout for a reliable fabric- and hardware supplier for theatre, exhibitions and events in Asia?