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INTERVIEW: Dirk De Decker Opposite: Take That’s incredible Progress Live stage in Cardiff. Below: U2 performed their 360º world tour set on the stage that Stageco built.

“About an hour before the meeting, I said

to Hedwig, “You know we have to give a presentation and explain how we’re actually going to do everything for this tour?” He said, “Of course.” Later, when we came out of the meeting I asked: “Do you realise what we’ve just said ‘yes’ to?” Hedwig replied, “Well, more or less, yes, I realise!” De Decker’s hearty chuckle exposed a refreshing attitude on a heavily complex matter. Perhaps because whatever mammoth task Stageco takes on, it’s delivered with intrinsic technical detail, allowing both artist and Set Designer’s dream be realised. “That’s the spirit of the company; don’t over

estimate yourself but have confidence in what you can do, and what your team can do for you. We go where other companies won’t; that’s how we work,” he confirmed. “A lot of shows fall through due to lack of money, but we have a long-term client base that have been with us from the beginning, and they have first choice. For new projects, we have to consider if it’s possible.” The 2006 Winter Olympics in Italy is an

event that stood out for De Decker. Upon reflection, he said: “Sometimes we don’t realise how special some of these stages are until afterwards. It’s the people who are behind you; they are the ones who enable it - from behind a computer in the office doing technical calculations to the guys in the warehouse, the team make this possible.”

NEW BLOOD “The biggest problem we have is that most of the time, the people who really want to

succeed at this job think too much about the glitz and glamour side; often it’s the silent guy who becomes important,” said De Decker. “We need new people, we’re not getting younger ourselves. Sometimes we’ll choose people when we know they’re ready to learn.” However, in his personal experience, trying

to pin point the quality required for someone to succeed in the stage-building process are varied. He highlighted: “The qualities you need to succeed here are difficult to define. You do, however, need to be very open-minded.” Though he has had many job titles during

his time with Stageco, De Decker’s passion is designing new systems. Any technical challenge is welcomed by the expert. From drawing on paper to figuring out how to do it in real life, the structural and logistical challenges are what keep De Decker at the top of his game, constantly raising the bar. “Keep your eyes open. Look around; there’s

information and inspiration everywhere - from tradeshows to building sites,” he suggested.

PRODUCT GROWTH, MINIMAL CARBON FOOTPRINT At PLASA 2011, Stageco launched a new tower staging system named the XL Tower. It’s significantly stronger, bigger and in keeping with its approach to stage design, is a modular component system. This means the new XL Towers can be used in multiple configurations, enabling a very flexible design on larger projects. De Decker was part of the development team, and explained: “The XL Tower system

has arisen from our experiences designing and building the extra large steel for the U2 360° world tour. We learnt a lot about large-scale fabrication, engineering and handling large steel components on site.” Stageco’s CEO Hedwig De Meyer

commented: “Stageco is a company that thrives on continuously pushing boundaries. We are stimulated by working with creative designers who challenge us to deliver stages and engineering solutions that are beyond what has been previously achieved. I can only begin to anticipate what the world’s leading designers will come up with given the extended possibilities our new XL Tower system offers - and we’ll relish the challenges of course.” The environmental impact of transporting

this type of equipment could be disastrous but for Stageco, carbon footprints are minimised throughout the entire company. “We go with the weight volume; we are as efficient as possible. The base kit we use for everything is steel and aluminium, so after a tour, if the base is no longer usable, we take it to be 100% recycled. There is very little loss because it’s not rocket science to take care of your equipment,” De Decker enthused.

CONSTRUCTION MASTERPIECES For the U2 360° tour, which lasted an immense 25 months beginning in June 09, Stageco built a Space Station superstructure at its test build site in Werchter, Belgium. De Meyer enjoyed the challenge of what

he described as his biggest and certainly most complicated project since he founded the

TPi NOVEMBER 2011 • 75

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