Meet Giorgio Tatsakis of Ethos Restaurant

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Tell us about your background?

I am a 21-year-old interior designer based in Johannesburg, South Africa. I was born in Johannesburg and emigrated 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 in. 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 most tough 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 it 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 its features. I needed to create a space that pays tribute to the timeless features and curves that the Mediterranean has to offer. I wanted to take the classic and ornate features found all over and bring them to our local shores, 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 which 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 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 must 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, resulting in a quarantine period. However, in the end, it’s all these struggles that seemed like a nightmare at the time, that become irrelevant when you look at the finished product and get to appreciate it in all of its glory.

What was your favourite design of the project?

I have three elements in my design at Ethos that have to be my favorite! 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, and the leaves are individually handmade from silk. The tree is extremely lifelike, that it is difficult to decide whether it is real or artificial. 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, creating 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.

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 in the casual side, however just as beautiful, unique, and detail orientated as the Ethos space is!

Which designer inspires you?

Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent have to be my two favorite interior designers. They create such contemporary spaces that just radiate warmth and are so inviting! They manage to create spaces that are so chic and timeless. They always layer different textures together and combine different elements, both old and new, and make the spaces which they design 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, and 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 with the most incredible ambiance. 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 and rather find a solution to the problems faced when both designing and when building.

A place you visit to unwind in Africa?

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