Working The Room: Tristan du Plessis

COMPILED BY Michaela Stehr

You’ll recognise Tristan du Plessis’s work instantly – the award-winning founder of Joburg-based interior architecture firm Tristan du Plessis Studio has fashioned some of South Africa’s favourite spaces.

Here, kicking off our new “Working The Room” series that will celebrate our country’s most exceptional interior designers, he chats about the standout projects that have marked his A-list career.

Gorgeous George, 2019

Gorgeous George by Tristan du Plessis

“This is where I fell in love with hospitality. This Cape Town boutique hotel was created around a collaborative, artist-led model. It stretched me to find the balance between modern, warm and striking, while also being deeply functional. From working with artist David Brits on murals to illustrator Lucie De Moyencourt on cheeky tiles, I relished the celebration of South African talent, and seeing it all come to life.”

Cleveland Residence, 2020

Cleveland Residence by Tristan du Plessis

“This mega bachelor pad in Johannesburg was one of the first homes I designed. The client gave me quite a firm brief that included using an entirely black-and-white scheme, and little to no art. Of course, it was a challenge – but I think the result is beautifully graphic. It threw me out of my comfort zone, but it was truly satisfying.”

Campocori, Rome, 2022

Campocori by Tristan du Plessis

“This project is an ode to the classic New York Italian restaurants of the 1930s – just brought to life with a subversive edge. We used traditional textures, including marble, velvet and wood panelling, for a warm and classic sensibility – but collaborating with artists such as Jana + Koos made sure that we kept it fresh and fun.”

FYN, 2019

FYN by Tristan du Plessis

FYN was a fascinating project because it’s home, Speakers’ Corner, is such a hidden yet historic spot in Cape Town. I wanted the restaurant to make an impression but still, be seamlessly nestled in the building. We made the high ceilings part of a striking visual that draws the eye up. This allowed us to maximise the space, bringing in opulence through all the finishes while staying cosy and inviting.”

Alice & Fifth, 2018

Alice & Fifth by Tristan du Plessis

“This Sandton space was an exciting foray into dining-meets-nightlife, with the two completely different functionalities having to be catered for. The client wanted a sumptuous and decadent space, juxtaposed with a raw, unrefined, underground edge. We went for a nostalgic feel with a contemporary twist and a slightly dark undertone, which I loved.”

Hell’s Kitchen, 2015

Hell's Kitchen by Tristan du Plessis

“The iconic Melville bar was the first commercial space my studio completed. (At the time, I was the studio!) It was an open-briefed, low-budget, rock and roll-style gig – in more ways than one. I loved the freedom, and tapped into this project as a way of expressing my style at the time. The design was engaging, detailed and rebellious, which perfectly sums up the attitude I had towards all my other work.”

SĀN Beach, Dubai , 2022

SAN Beach by Tristan du Plessis

“This was a dream project, set on a beach on the iconic Palm in Dubai. I came up with everything, from concept to design, all inspired by the earliest African tribe, the San. We used natural materials, and the entire shell of the space was made to look as though it had been hand-moulded from clay. The interiors are decorated with contemporary African made artworks and design pieces by creatives ranging from Jake Singer to David Krynauw.”

Clay, Bahrain, 2020

Clay by Tristan du Plessis

“Clay is a Peruvian concept in which we explored the intersection between Japanese and Peruvian cultures that created Nikkei cuisine. The restaurant sits above the area of Adliya, one of Bahrain’s most sought-after dining destinations. We were tasked with creating a sultry and luxurious space that was to become a hotspot for the well-travelled and well-heeled set of Bahrain.”

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