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Ethos: Up Close & Personal With Giorgio Tatsakis

Up and coming interior designer, Giorgio Tatsakis is on a mission. With international experience and work on a number of high-end projects that many aspiring designers can only dream of, Giorgio shares a real passion to create comfortable and welcoming spaces. We chat with Giorgio about his brand and involvement in the latest project at Ethos Restaurant.

Tell us about your background?

I’m a 21-year-old interior designer based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Born in Johannesburg, I immigrated to Athens in 2007 until 2009, where I was fortunate to fluently learn the language, indulge in the culture and begin my journey of my appreciation for the Mediterranean, its food, architecture and design. I recently completed a BA degree in interior design at Greenside Design Centre. However, I was and have been working from the beginning of my degree on hospitality and residential projects, such as Ethos Morningside, The Rock Hazelwood, Rosebank and another three which are scheduled to open in the new year. I am further the co-owner of a ceramics and woodware company called Clay by MG, which I own with my sister, Mary Tatsakis.

Tell us about the history of your company and your ultimate focus?

The focus of my company is to ultimately create spaces in which people feel comfortable. Whether it be a residential project, commercial or hospitality. I really believe it is important that everyone feels comfortable and welcome.


What personally inspires you in your working life?

There are two things that continue to inspire me in my working life. My family and my travels. From when I was young, I have always had the biggest admiration for my family and the hard work which they put into everything they do. I come from a family that continuously outdoes themselves and a family that manages to create experiences for people, even in the toughest and almost impossible times.

Secondly, my frequent and yearly travels to Europe continue to inspire me. There is something about Europe that draws me in. I cannot help but feel this major burst of inspiration every time I travel. There is nothing I love more than taking things I’ve seen whilst on holiday and using them as inspiration in my projects, whilst complimenting them with a South African flavour!

What were some considerations when designing the interior of Ethos?

Upon receiving the brief, it was made clear that the restaurant had to still be synonymous with the brand and the aesthetic which I had already created in the Morningside eatery. The inspiration for the design and decor is purely the Mediterranean and all of its features. I needed to create a space that pays tribute to the timeless features and curves that the Mediterranean has to offer. Furthermore, I wanted to take the classic and ornate features found all over and bring them to our local shores. However, I wanted to do this in a more contemporary and toned-down space and environment.

Other than that, I intended to create a space that offered a form of escapism, in its purest and most calm form. Especially during Covid-19, with travel restrictions, I wanted to create a space that transports people but does not intimidate them, despite having a sophisticated ambience and being a casual fine dining restaurant.

Planning a new design can sometimes be a nightmare, can you tell us some of the common struggles you had?

Something I commonly face when designing is trusting the decisions which I have already made. Especially the ones that I made at the very beginning of a project. As I move further along in the design process and overall project, I often find myself rethinking and second-guessing the decisions I have already made. However I in turn have to control myself and trust what I have already decided on.

A struggle in the Ethos build was definitely building during Covid-19. As a designer, there is nothing more exciting and rewarding than seeing your vision come to life. However, with Covid-19 this process took a slight bit longer due to restrictions, lockdowns, curfews and people testing positive on site. This resulted in a quarantine period. However, in the end, it’s all of these struggles that seemed like a nightmare at the time, that becomes irrelevant when you look at the finished product and get to appreciate it in all of its glory.

What was your favourite design element of the project?

I have three elements in my design at Ethos that have to be my favourite! The first being our iconic central olive tree and our two new additions, our ceiling baffles and our marble bathroom vanity.

The olive tree is a feature and object that shouts Ethos! In the Mediterranean, it is found that people gather in town squares and find themselves clustered and enjoying themselves around the well-grown and nourished olive trees. Whenever I think of my travels to the Mediterranean, I think of the beautiful olive trees that have infested the land. Thus, it was inevitable to bring that into the space and let it speak for itself. The bark of the tree is preserved from a Jacaranda tree. Furthermore, the leaves are individually handmade from silk. The tree is extremely lifelike, so it is difficult to decide whether or not it is real or artificial.

As before, the Rosebank space has a toned-down and neutral palate. However there have been incredible new design details that make the space unique! New to the space, and now synonymous with our brand, are our ceiling baffles which have been imported from France. The imported ceiling baffles have been laid out in a way that mimics the flow of the waves found in the Aegean Sea. This creates a sense of rhythm, flow and fluidity. This feature is also a mirror image and runs in the same direction as the straight oriented Oggie wooden flooring placed beneath it. The result is a form of repetition and elongating the shape of the space.

As for the marble vanity, upon my travels to Maison et Objet in Paris last year, I was completely blown away by the vanity which I saw while visiting the Hotel Costes for a quick lunch! I just had to recreate it on our local shores! I love its imperfections, yet how elegant and unique it was.

Were you solely responsible for the new look? Please tell us more about the process and outcome.

Yes, I was solely responsible for the look and feel of the space. I worked alongside our architects which drew up the plans of the interior details and elements which I had solely visualized and conceptualized, however, I was the lead creative director and interior designer of the space.

I started working on the design and interior details well into December 2020, after gaining inspiration from my travels to Maison et Objet, Paris, in January that year.

Travelling is something that always keeps my designs and ideas fresh and unique, due to seeing different forms of inspiration all over, including my travels to Dubai, London, Paris, Athens and Italy!

What are some of the stand-out pieces in the space and where were they sourced from?

Ethos prides itself on using local talent and resources. All furniture is manufactured by local companies. This includes Umdabu, David Kryanuw and Mark Bakos Designs. Most of these furniture pieces are complemented and met by our imported Arrabescato marble from Italy. As for the art in the space, our hand-crafted mural and artwork, are created by two local artists.

A feature that stands out and follows the idea of the Aegean Sea, created by Elaine Jansen van Rensburg, is our bar sculpture. This starts from our alcohol display and stretches over our curved ceiling. This sculpture mimics the underwater experience one has when exploring and taking in all the Aegean Sea has to offer. The insanely beautiful pastel coloured artwork on our wall was created by Kurt Pio. I could never imagine the space complete without it! It totally compliments and finishes off the whole Ethos design.

The lighting in the space completely changes at night creating a more moody and elegant effect. However our table lamps imported from Australia bring light to the space, alongside the two well-lit features, our olive tree and our Kurt Pio painting.

Another feature that stands out in the space is our individually hand-made Zellige tiles from Morocco. These can be found in our open kitchen! A must-see during sunsets, as the sun reflects off of them creating multiple shades of white, off white and a pearl-like colour.

Any exciting projects or collaborations you are involved in?

I am currently working on three new eateries which are scheduled to open early next year. All three, unlike Ethos, are more on the casual side.However, each is just as beautiful, unique, and detail orientated as the Ethos space!

Which designer inspires you?

Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent have to be my two favourite interior designers. They create such contemporary spaces that just radiate warmth and are so inviting! These designers manage to create spaces that are so chic and timeless. They always layer different textures together and combine different elements, both old and new. The spaces which they design are thus rich, yet still warm and inviting. This really inspires me.

The perfect place in your home to indulge?

Anyone that knows me or follows me on social media knows that my bedroom is my haven. It is a complete representation of my aesthetic and an extension of my personality. Like most of my work, it is a toned-down space made up of rich textures, greenery and a combination of different woods. It is the perfect place in my home to indulge as it transports me straight to the Greek islands and manages to calm me down and help me relax!

What are your current favourite restaurants/shops?

A local gem that I continuously find myself gravitating towards is a quaint Italian restaurant in the heart of Morningside called Sale e Pepe Da Giovanni. It has the most incredible and authentic Italian cuisine. Their seafood pasta is always my go to!

On an international level, although very difficult to decide, my favourite would have to be Sexy Fish in Mayfair, London. Living up to its name, it’s an incredibly sexy and luxurious space. It has the most incredible ambience. It is perfect for drinks at their bar or one of their delectable meals! My favourite meal there has to be their Chilean Seabass!

What’s your personal Motto?

A motto I live by is “Choose your battles”. As cliche as this may sound, the industry is really all about problem-solving. So, living by this motto helps me not harp and worry about the small stuff. Instead, I rather find a solution to the problems faced when both designing and when building.

A place you visited to unwind in Africa?

Cape Town is always a place that I find myself unwinding in! I instantly feel at ease when close to the sea. Personally, I love the smell and sound of the ocean and waves. Nothing excites me more than taking a drive to a wine farm and spending the day there admiring the scenery!

Any awards the company has won?

In 2020, my work at the original Ethos in Morningside won the 2020 HOSCO Restaurant Style Award. This was in partnership with Bonang Matheba and House of BNG, for its interiors, atmosphere and ambience.

Visit Ethos and take a look at the amazing work in real life!

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