South Africa’s most awarded interior designer, Tristan Du Plessis, brings his bold and iconic designs to the UAE’s luxury hotel space

Internationally award-winning interior designer Tristan Du Plessis is no stranger to creating eye-catching spaces that combine form and function. A family background in art has shaped her collaborative approach to her craft. The 33-year-old designer has moved on to specialize in luxury hospitality and bespoke residential design. From the unexpected start of his career – he initially wanted to pursue a degree in marketing – he became one of the most sought-after interior designers and brought in other South African design talents, including Gregor Jenkins, Lucie de Moyencourt, Chris Soal, Jake Singer and David Brits to shine on the world stage.

Its distinctive design quickly captured international attention, even earning it the coveted Hotel of the Year award at the 2019 AHEAD Awards (Middle East and Africa). His success is anything but traditional; the multi-hyphenated talent is as well known for his style as he is for his design. Not only has he earned a spot on GQ South Africa’s 10 Most Stylish Men list, he was also named Designer of the Year by the prestigious publication and is an ambassador for the high-end global brand Courvoisier.

A full slate of upcoming projects in Dubai include the highly anticipated SAN, Dubai’s first African-inspired beach club on The Palm Jumeirah – alongside the St. Regis on The Palm – and Loren, an Italian Riviera-inspired restaurant which evokes the 70s glamor made famous by iconic actress Sophia Loren; they will be glamorous additions to the landscape of Dubai.

“I love the challenge of creating a beautiful space that stands out while retaining the essence of its surroundings. This is something I consider in all my projects, especially in Dubai where the eye is spoiled for choice,” says Du Plessis of his luxury design philosophy.
Du Plessis is no stranger to the region, he has applied his talents to the award-winning Clay Bahrain and its recently inaugurated, equally stunning Bluewaters Island location in Dubai. The Japanese-Peruvian restaurant is known as much for being a beautiful space as it is for a fine dining experience. Additionally, with The Meat Co Dubai, Tristan brought a taste of African luxury and, as always, hit the mark, winning another award for his work with Best Bar Design for the Middle East and Africa. and a finalist in the Best Restaurant Design category.

With Katsuya, the culinary concept of LA’s SBE Group, the famed designer leaned into the luxurious ambience that has become synonymous with Dubai mixed with an ode to Japanese cuisine that made the concept famous.
You’d think that with so many projects going on in the Middle East, South Africa and Europe, Tristan wouldn’t have time to sleep, let alone find time for hobbies. “More than loving what I do, I like that through my work, I can explore my curiosity, especially through collaboration. Marrying art, design and the understanding of what makes a unique experience exciting is fascinating.

The next two years are already looking very busy with a first for the creator; a nightlife project in none other than Miami, the nightlife capital and design hub, to launch in late 2022. Top of its 2023 schedule is a large-scale luxury hotel from one of the world’s leading hotel brands in the world – arguably the last absentee from Abu Dhabi’s vibrant hospitality scene. “It’s incredibly exciting to have been selected for a project of this magnitude and I wish I could shout it from the rooftops. But what I can say is that this is a wonderfully challenging project that will allow me to showcase another side of my abilities,” says Du Plessis.

Having a comprehensive list doesn’t mean he doesn’t bring his distinctive vision to every project – which was evident when not one but two of his projects were nominated in the same category for Best Restaurant and Bar Design in 2019. “Now that travel is back on the table, I look forward to being inspired in a completely different way, and I’m honored to be the chief judge of the Accor Design Awards this year – which challenges me to elevate my own design in the future,” remarks Du Plessis.

Dubai’s landscape is constantly changing and with it comes an exciting wave of new talent such as Tristan Du Plessis. As he has started to make his mark with his latest projects, it is evident that this is the start of an exciting step towards cementing his status as a top designer in the GCC region.

Betty K. Park