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Quick Takes With: Ajiri Aki

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Quick Takes With: Ajiri Aki

June 30, 2024
ajiri aki portrait 17

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Three design lessons we’ve learned from Ajiri Aki, the woman behind Paris-based tableware co. Madame de la Maison:

  1. The table is a place for everyone.
  2. Objects have histories and meaning. Invest in what lasts.
  3. Always, always use the good china.

The Nigerian-born, Texas-raised, Paris-based style setter has a Masters in decorative arts and worked as a stylist in the fashion industry in NYC before settling in the City of Light, where she now lives with her Swiss-German husband and two kids and scours French flea markets for treasures. Ajiri is also the author of Joie: A Parisian’s Guide to Celebrating the Good Life (and, we’re thrilled to report, she’s working on a follow-up).

Ajiri’s shared insight of all kinds with us over the past several years, from her own design point of view to savoring life the French way. Today she’s writing in with her tiny (but effective) house upgrade, ideal sheets, and the Paris museum where she gets inspiration. Read on…

ajiri’s colorful, laid back kitchen, via the socialite family. 28
Above: Ajiri’s colorful, laid-back kitchen, via The Socialite Family.

You’re invited to dinner. What’s your go-to gift?

A fancy bottle of olive oil.

What’s on your bedside table?

A stack of books I need to read—and on the top, The Creative Act by Rick Rubin.

What’s your desert island design/art/architecture-related book?

The Beauty of Time Travel, on the work of Ramdane Touhami.

What podcast or playlist do you put on when you need inspiration?

Alexis Ffrench if I am writing and Aya Nakamura if I am styling or doing a photoshoot.

What’s a film or TV show whose aesthetic has stuck with you?

The sets on Nurse Ratched were insane!

Which Instagram account do you go to for design inspiration?

@feauboiseries.

What has been your best house upgrade?

Putting bookshelves up in the salon on both sides of the fireplace.

Is there a simple or budget-friendly design move you wish you’d known sooner?

That I can make little upgrades to a room by just changing the light switches and electric plugs.

from our very first post on madame de la maison, way back in \20\18: a silvery  29
Above: From our very first post on Madame de la Maison, way back in 2018: a silvery clam shell butter dish that Ajiri found in St. Jean de Luz. (See: Vintage French Style You Can Rent.)

My favorite sheets are…

Solid linen sheets from Merci in Paris.

My favorite paint color for the bedroom is…

One wall in mine is currently Farrow & Ball Pitch Black, but I’m considering a refresh to Dead Salmon or Templeton Pink.

Your design pet peeve?

Beige everything.

My go-to kitchen utensil is…

Tongs!

Three words that describe my design style:

Past/present juxtaposed.

First design love?

The period rooms at the Musée des Arts et Décoratifs.

What item from your closet do you have on repeat?

Madame de la Maison caftans.

ajiri and her kids, noomi and baz. photograph by jessica antola, courtesy of cl 30
Above: Ajiri and her kids, Noomi and Baz. Photograph by Jessica Antola, courtesy of Clarkson Potter, as seen in 10 Tips for Living the French Way, from ‘Joie: A Parisian’s Guide to Celebrating the Good Life’.

Favorite design shop to visit (online or in person)?

I love strolling Marche Vernaison and Paul Bert Serpette at the Puces de Saint Ouen in Paris. Endless inspiration.

What is the last thing you purchased for your house?

I’m currently in the process of buying a new sofa…

My unpopular design opinion is…

You don’t need to follow design trends, ever.

Something you’re coveting?

A villa in Provence.

Thanks so much, Ajiri! Follow her work @madamedelamaison and madamedelamaison.com.

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