Long-time friends and business partners Gavin Olivier and Alex Sanfilippo are key players in the local AV industry. With over three decades of combined experience in AV design and consultancy, they have collaborated on all sorts of prestigious projects, from Freedom Park to Liliesleaf and SA Tourism. Late last year they signed a significant agreement to co-run Digital Fabric, one of the most recognisable and bespoke AV consultancies to the local museum and visitor attraction sector. We recently sat down with the duo.

How did you get into the AV industry?

Alex: I started out in the sound rental industry at Hattech/Satellite Sound as a technician in 1999, spent a further two years at Wild & Marr and in 2002 joined Shattered Glass AV & Staging. My time at Shattered glass forged my passion for the industry. In 2008 I joined Megaview Displays as new business development manager and technical advisor. After a short stint on my own, doing World Cup related work, I merged with Digital Fabric in 2011.

Gavin: I grew up in the telecommunication and mainframe industry, but absolutely hated it. In search of something more exciting I put in a few years in the live event industry after which I joined Electrosonic South Africa in their first year or two of existence. Thirteen years later, the attraction of the museum and heritage market lured me away and the rest, as they say, is history.

What inspired you to join forces?

Alex: Gavin and I had been doing business together for many years, since my days at Shattered Glass and we had always toyed with the idea of doing more together. The truth is that I had always aspired to one day work for Gavin, but now have the privilege of working with him. A lot of what happened in 2010 around our work culminated into our joining forces a year later.

Gavin: We often wonder why it took us so long to get to this point because we have been on the same page for a very long time. We complement each other so incredibly well; my ability to get projects off the drawing board complements Alex’s ability to turn them into real products that constantly push the boundaries of design excellence.

How best do you describe what Digital Fabric does?

Gavin: Hmmm, that’s hard to summarise in just a paragraph. We mostly offer consulting and design services to the Heritage and Visitor Attraction market; however because of the bespoke nature of certain items, we are increasingly required to provide turnkey development for projects. Most of our interactive projects are examples of this – there simply aren’t existing products out there for us to specify.

What are some of your favourite recent projects?

Gavin: The Freedom Park Museum project that we are midway with is certainly the most exciting. We are handling AV, exhibition lighting, interactive hardware and software and digital archiving systems, so it’s quite a handful. But outside of that there have been many deeply rewarding projects, mostly small, where we are involved in the concept and narrative design from the outset.

We have also recently been commissioned to develop interactive windows for the newly opened Wits Arts Museum in Bramfontein. The screens face the streets and use tracking cameras to detect movement by curious night visitors. It gives the museum an entire audience on the other side of the glass and we are helping to develop a viral campaign around the concept.

Alex: We recently developed an interactive touch surface called TouchTable4 for SA Tourism. It’s unique, even by international standards, and we have extensively showcased it in Europe with great response. The table is two and a half metres long and can be used by eight people at the same time. It allows users to search and browse all the leisure experiences offered in South Africa, also allowing them to access a large database of information, play high definition videos and send emails using a state-of-art multitouch interface.

What has been your proudest project?

Alex: Working at Moses Mabhida Stadium for the 2010 World Cup; I worked with Wild & Marr to design and install the stadium’s flagship line array system.

What do you do in your free time?

Gavin: The free time that I have is spent with my family; we love entertaining and visiting cool spots around Joburg.

Alex: I spend time with friends and my much better half, I also love cooking – great to de-stress

What’s your holiday destination of choice?

Alex: …Still looking, really.

Gavin: Franschoek Valley or most parts of Italy.

Favourite song of all time?

Alex: Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody

Gavin: Sarah McLachlan – Angel.

Great Chatting to you guys, thanks for your time and we wish you all the best!