Joie De Vivre with Ajiri Aki
No one throws a party like Ajiri Aki. A Texan-Nigerian-turned-Parisian, Ajiri has married her innate love of hospitality with her practiced "joie de vivre," the recipe for her distinct glow and incomparable taste. She's applied those values to a myriad of projects, from her curated homewares shop "Madame de la Maison" to her latest book, "JOIE," a guide to making the most of life's little things. Join us for a day at Ajiri's Paris apartment, where she shared her tips for antiquing, the perfect dinner party, and the dressing for joy.
On Cultivating Taste
“I believe every day should be a bit of a celebration, so I like to think of the pieces as being meant for celebrating every day. When I studied the decorative arts, I was very drawn to 19th and early 20th century French styles. All the time I spent trolling the flea markets, visiting museums and pouring over design books that cover these eras has influenced my taste.”
On Life's Little Things
“There are so many little things that make life sweeter. Walking around any neighborhood and stopping at a cafe to sit solo and watch people pass by, waking up before my family to sit on the terrace, visiting the market without a grocery list, and stopping into (or even just walking past) my local fromagerie, butcher, florist, and being greeted by a familiar smile and ‘bonjour.’”
On Getting Dressed
"My love for ‘joie de vivre’ absolutely translates to how I dress! Since I was a young child, I loved wearing dresses that were considered 'party dresses' for regular days and I haven’t changed a bit. I am a fan and lover of Loeffler Randall because so many pieces in every collection seem to embody this similar sentiment. I am here for all the puffy sleeves, full skirts and bows on my shoes."
“In hosting a dinner party, the number one thing is to remember Dr. Maya Angelou’s quote: ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ Put on something that makes you feel good, set a table the morning of your event to limit your stress, cook something simple, light candles, put on a great playlist and spend time with your guests. If you are feeling good, your guests at the dinner party will too.”
"Texans have this saying that their door is always open and Nigerians notoriously love inviting everyone they can imagine to a party or their table. I have incorporated these two elements into my life in Paris, adding the French influence and excellence in design and love of the past."
"Three quick tips and a recommendation:
1. Use your imagination. Whatever an object was typically used for in the past can be adapted in the present.
2. An item is worth what you are willing to pay for it. Don’t walk away from something because the dealer won’t lower the price or you think you are being cheated. You might walk away because you tried to bargain down 10% and then will spend the rest of the day thinking about that ‘one that got away.’
3. Take cash and wear comfortable shoes.
4. When in Paris, visit Marché Vernaison and Marché Paul Bert-Serpette and Victoria’s Antiques in the 11th."