Ajiri Aki created her brand Madame de la Maison because, as she puts it, “celebration is in my DNA.” After moving to Paris from New York, where she worked as a stylist list and on fashion exhibitions for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she longed to recreate the meals and entertaining experiences she missed from home. After starting her family, she also launched her business, to bring that sense of joy and togetherness back into her life. Today, Madame de la Maison is known for its chic linens and vintage finds, as well as the fabulous events that have been produced through their rental business.
We spoke with Ajiri about the inspirations behind her brand, how sustainability factors into her work, and the must-have items she needs at every dinner party. See what she had to say, and be sure to shop Madame de la Maison on Chairish.
First and foremost, how did you launch Madame de la Maison, and how did you decide upon the name?
I launched Madame de la Maison four years ago alone here in my apartment in Paris. Coming up with the name sort of came together across various brainstorm sessions. My aunt always called me Madame Ajiri when I was a kid because I had a flair for pomp and circumstance. Also being called a lady of the house in French has the similar negative tone that housewife has in English. I wanted to take that back and flip it into something glamorous and powerful.
You sell vintage and antique tabletop pieces as well as your own original linens. Why was it important for you to do both of these things with your brand?
I believe the two go together well. The French love to entertain with antiques and they love linens on their tables, so I have learned to appreciate them as important parts of hosting.
You mention that you work with 100% linen, which is a sustainable material that reduces waste. Tell us more about how green practices factor into your brand.
When I set out to create a brand, I didn’t want to contribute to landfills and the massive amount of waste that exists already. Reselling antiques and developing new products that fight against waste meant a lot to me. An additional element to the brand is we offer the opportunity to tap into Madame de la Maison’s aesthetic with the rental option. Maybe you don’t need to own it, but want to “borrow” it for a night or two.
Madame de la Maison is all about connecting people around the table, both literally and metaphorically. What are some of your must-haves for a fabulous dinner party?
Linens are a must because they help elevate the moment that you’re sharing with others. You should light some candles around the space or on the table. I highly recommend starting your dinner party with an apéro hour of champagne and nibbles. This is a nice way to greet your guests and for everyone to connect and chat before heading to the table.
If we are talking about must-have items? I love antique dinner plates of course, and I am a big fan of knife rests so people can rest their cutlery on that instead of the linen. I also love to mix and match crystal wine glasses, which helps everyone avoid mixing their glasses up.
Who are some makers or brands that inspire you in your own work?
I love the work of the architectural designer Aline Asmar d’Amman because she brings together such beautiful materials and creates modern glamorous spaces but is also heavily influenced by the past. I love the interiors of the Orient Express train — the Belmond Group hires really talented designers and creative directors to design different train cars. I also love the textiles of La Maison Pierre Frey and how they have created a range from vintage inspired to modern textiles.
You currently create pieces like tablecloths and napkins… what kinds of items would you like to launch in the future?
I am thinking about launching various products that help enhance these moments in any and all ways possible. More immediately, we want to launch a capsule collection of caftans for summer time hosting and relaxing.
Tell us about your personal spaces and how you design at home. How would you describe your aesthetic? Do you collect any vintage or antique pieces?
When I’m decorating spaces, I like to build them slowly. I usually mix antiques with something modern and prefer to have items in my home that tell a story or have meaning to me. I go to flea markets and I visit digital marketplaces to get inspiration or find pieces. This slower approach results in me designing a space that I like and won’t change my mind about later.
What’s a dream piece you’d love to have for your own home?
A recamier that I could reupholster in a dreamy Pierre Frey fabric.
How have digital avenues like Chairish affected the way you sell your work?
They are wonderful ways to expose what we do to a specific audience. I know clients that go to Chairish appreciate previously-loved secondhand items.
What trends in the design industry are you loving right now? And are there any styles or trends you’d like to see disappear?
To be very honest, since moving to Paris, I am not super trend driven or trend focused so I don’t pay much attention to that. However, I did recently read an article in The New York Times that said that collecting and using antique china is becoming a trend to make everyday meals feel more celebratory, which I am happy to hear. I have been a cheerleader for using the “good china” for years.
All images courtesy of Madame de la Maison