Tristan du Plessis’s magical summer


Tristan du Plessis is one of SA’s most prolific interior architects who has set the design scene ablaze with awe-inspiring work and scooped many local and international awards for best restaurant and bar design, since he founded Tristan du Plessis Studios (formerly Studio A) six years ago.

Du Plessis says he’s learnt so much about being an entrepreneur in the past few years. “There is so much other work that goes into running a business, as opposed to just doing the design work and being the best designer out there, which is obviously challenged.

“Growing a team that supports you, cultivating new business relationships, marketing abroad, and meeting new people is equally as exciting as the design work.”

His work is underpinned by extremely detailed design, and work that engages the audience. “It’s somewhat theatrical. Visiting a space I’ve designed has to feel like an experience. It’s that kind of spirit that’s embodied in restaurants like Tang and KoL Izakhaya.”

His projects which include Gorgeous George Hotel and Fynn African X Japanese in Cape Town, and both private and restaurant/bar work in Miami, Rome, Salzburg, Austria, Dubai, and Saudi Arabia, has made him into somewhat of a globetrotter, though he’s recently made Cape Town his permanent home.

“I’m looking forward to spending this summer in Cape Town and I’m quite happy that I’m not going to be travelling for a change. Home is beautiful.

“I enjoy Chinchilla and Georgous George for a sundowner, with Afro house playing in the background. Nobody does summer house music better than right here in Africa.”

When he’s not relaxing at home, travelling is often part-work, part-inspiration. “I’d love to switch my brain off from work for two weeks and experience the magic of a European summer,” he says that perfect summer break would be timed to experience all the new restaurant openings. “It’s kinda my job to go to the most beautiful restaurants in the world and see what’s current.”

He easily lists off this bucket list destinations: “I want to see Japan. The culture and the level of design is incredible, and it’s quite difficult to access a lot of the information coming through the west so it’s best to go to see it in person. I’d hire a car and drive along the coast in the south of France. And I want to visit Mexico for the art and design scene, which is really cutting edge at the moment.”

But Paris is the one city he’d keep going back to. “I was lucky enough to work on a project in the French countryside – a few villas for an international client – and would go to about four or five times a year. If I wasn’t living in SA, I’d live in Paris, but Cape Town is the home I’d choose here.”

As a Courvoisier ambassador he recently hosted a #CourvoisierMoments event for his friends and industry peers, an invite-only preview of one of his latest design projects, the newly launched KoL Izakhaya at Hyde Park Shopping Centre, before it opened to the public.

“It was interesting being able to engage with people at a different level – taking people around and telling them the story behind some of the chosen material, art pieces and furniture. And then as things loosened up a few of my friends ended up behind the bar getting to know how to mix different cocktails. It was a really good mix of people from different backgrounds and everyone had something to bring to the table,” says Du Plessis about the secret to a great gathering.

Much like his design approach, it’s learning about the detail, artistry and sophistication of cognac that captures him. “There is such subtlety in the differences that make a great cognac – and the slight adjustments made to achieve the flavour profiles. As a consumer I see it as simple drink, but it’s actually quite detailed in how it comes to be; the process behind it. It’s the only drink I used to drink, neat, with a big block of ice and now the French Twist is my favoured cocktail.”

Du Plessis who’s not an influencer per se, says he likes to just share his work on social media. A few brands have approached him to partner with them but Courvoisier made the most sense. “I said yes because the brand positioning resonated and I really appreciate the craftsmanship that goes behind producing the products. It all just fits in with my personal belief system.”


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