the characteristic spirit of a culture, era, or community as manifested in its attitudes and aspirations.  

A touch of the Mediterranean…

Mediterranean-inspired Ethos restaurant has been the talk of the town in recent months, as the luxurious Joburg eatery (partnering with the acclaimed Chef Luke Dale Roberts) moves to its new digs at Oxford Parks in Rosebank. Interior designer Giorgio Tatsakis who worked on the Morningside eatery, which opened in 2019, was once again appointed for the interiors of this special space. Just as before, the inspiration of Ethos came from the unique and timeless features that are seen throughout the alluring Mediterranean. Giorgio explains that now more than ever, when it is harder to travel due to restrictions, spaces that offer a form of escapism are even more relevant.

Giorgio and his father and founder, Chris Tatsakis, travelled abroad to countries including Greece, Italy, Dubai and the United Kingdom to gain insight and inspiration for their newest restaurant.

Diners can expect to indulge in some delicious dishes in a luxurious and dramatic setting, which includes sweeping arches, grand columns, impressive Italian marble and a soothing neutral colour palette with brass accents.

This father-son duo has once again teamed up with incredible local designers and artisans as well as architects, SuP Architecture, to create a Mediterranean inspired space, bringing their vision to life. Outside and In catches up with Giorgio to gain more insight into his design aesthetic for the space and involvement in this passion project…

Q: Tell us about your background and how you arrived at Ethos?

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.

Q: What were some key 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 décor 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.

Q: Which elements to the design have really been successful?

I have three elements in my design at Ethos that are stand outs! 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 around the well grown and nourished olive trees. 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.

Q: We’re sure that Ethos has received many accolades?

In 2020, my work at the original Ethos in Morningside won the Style Award for its interiors, atmosphere and ambiance at the Luxe Restaurant Awards. In 2022 Ethos Rosebank won the International Restaurant of the Year Award which was a great honour. We have also been shortlisted for the 2022 International Hotel & Property Awards taking place in Capri, Italy, in July 2022.

Q: How does the new restaurant design differ from the previous look-and-feel?

As before, the Rosebank space has a toned down and neutral palate, however, there have been incredible new design details that makes the space unique! New to the space, and now synonymous with our brand, are our ceiling baffles which have been imported from France and mentioned above. We still used neutral and textured material as we did in the previous space, however used a slightly brighter, yet still toned, velvet like material from Home Fabrics’ fibre guard range, for the bench seating, which draws the eye to the other focal point of the restaurant, being the signature olive tree.

Q: About the layout and architecture: arches, columns and curves?

The space is dedicated to the features and curves of the Mediterranean. All the ceilings are curved creating a cocoon effect within the space. The columns, and marble cladding feature beneath the open kitchen, mimics the detail on the columns found on the Parthenon in Athens, thus brining this ancient and timeless feature to our urban jungle. All the doors and openings within the space are arched and continues the curve that’s found throughout the space.

Q: Any other 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 from local companies, including those of 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 that 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, and I could never imagine the space complete without it! It totally compliments and finishes off the whole Ethos design. The flooring by local company Cemcrete creates the desired finishes for our brand, and 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 handmade Zellige tiles from Morocco, that can be found in our open kitchen! A must-see during sunsets, as the sun reflects off them creating multiple shades of white, off white and a pearl-like colour.