Ajiri Aki is the founder of Paris-based rental company and online boutique, Madame de la Maison. Her love of antiques and celebrating led her to start the company in 2018, offering stylish antiques and linens meant to bring a sense of joy to your home. Ajiri understands the value of community and connection and that there is power in gathering around the table. Follow along to learn more about Ajiri and how she styled her Paris home with our Frida and Hockney pillows!
First off, tell us a little bit about yourself!
I am Nigerian-Jamaican, was born in Nigeria and moved to Austin, Texas when I was 5 years old. After university in Ft. Worth, I made the big move to NYC to work in fashion. I had such an incredible experience and grew so much during my twenties working in fashion. I really learned a lot about myself and eventually decided to get my master’s degree in the decorative arts, which brought me to Paris for a summer of thesis research. After that program and stint of researching in Paris, I returned to Brooklyn and 9 months later I met my Swiss husband who lived in Paris. So I returned to this beautiful city and now have two wonderful children, Baz and Noomi.
What inspired you to start Madame de la Maison?
When I moved to Paris I missed that sense of community and joy that I derived from weekly fellowship with friends and family back home. I hosted different salons and gatherings as a way to connect with other expats and locals. Hosting is just something that I need to do and love doing because I believe there is magic when you bring people together. Sometimes there is a feeling that you don’t have all the right pieces to entertain. All the items that fit your style and taste because you can’t afford them. We’re so lucky to live in France and I have always loved antiques and going to flea markets. I decided to bring together my passions and create a business that would inspire people to create moments but wouldn’t be creating more waste in the world with upcycling amazing pieces I find and designing a line of 100% flax seed linens, which is the most sustainable material. There are so many beautiful objects that have such history and stories and we can use them to create our own new memories and beautiful moments.
Where does your love of entertaining stem from?
This definitely comes from my Nigerian culture as well as my mother and my grandmother. Gathering is truly in my DNA as a Nigerian because we love getting together. Growing up we always had guests over after church and met up with other Nigerian families every Saturday. Our table was always long and packed with people.
You’re a master at creating unique and stylish tablescapes. Do you approach decorating your home the same way as the table?
Yes, in the sense that I want to be surrounded by things that bring me joy.
Walk us through how you styled your space with our Hockney and Frida prints! What drew you to these patterns?
Both of these patterns jumped out at me because the Frida print felt a bit old world and reminded me of toile prints. Then the Hockney is rather modern, and I love to mix and match old and new. I decided to put them on the couch because I felt the colors worked nicely with my paintings from Allison Blumenthal, a Parisian artist.
What tips do you have for mixing old and new decor?
If you’re unsure about mixing, I always say find a common thread to weave everything together. That connection could be playing with colors or patterns.
What does your home say about you?
I love that you can look around our home and learn so much about our separate and shared past and present together. You can see we love our space to be a mélange of objects that make us happy and bring up fun memories. It’s a cozy and joyful space.