We can hardly believe it’s already time to begin our Holiday Tastemaker introductions, but here we are! Today, we are thrilled to feature Ajiri Aki who partnered with Dogwood Hill’s Creative Director and artist, Lucy Young, to create a stunning botanical-filled holiday collection of invitations, stationery, menu cards, gift tags and more!
Ajiri Aki is an American-Nigerian living in Paris and the founder of Madame de la Maison, an entertaining and lifestyle brand. She has worked for publications including W, Rolling Stone, Nylon, Interview Magazine, DNR (Women’s Wear Daily) and Suede Magazine. Madame de la Maison and has been featured in Vogue, Domino, Remodelista, Oprah Daily, and Metropolitan Magazine and she is co-author of the New York Times best-selling book, Where’s Karl?: A Fashion-Forward Parody (Clarkson Potter), as well as author of her newly released book, Joie: A Parisian’s Guide to Celebrating the Good Life.
As Lucy and Ajiri began brainstorming art ideas for the collection, Lucy said that Ajiri’s Parisian influence and love of botanical prints provided an abundance of inspiration. Ajiri created a beautiful vision board with insight into her ideas on subject matter and the color story for the collection:
“While this collection was being fleshed out, Ajiri’s book “Joie” launched and I was thrilled to get my hands on it! Her book is stunning and provided additional insight into her lifestyle and personality. I love how the collection came together to reflect Ajiri’s elegant taste,” said Lucy.
Continue scrolling for a preview of Ajiri’s holiday tastemaker collection as well as our Q&A with Ajiri. We have also included a few of our favorite snapshots from her dreamy Instagram page.
You can shop the entire Ajiri Aki Tastemaker Collection on our website here.
Q&A with Ajiri:
Which card from your Tastemaker Suite will you be sending out to friends and family this holiday?
It is too hard to choose just one, because I love all of the options in the different suites. I will send one to family and friends, one to clients and business contacts and the tags will be on all my presents. Oh – and the name cards will be making appearances on my tables for all of my holiday apéros and dinner parties.
What was the inspiration behind your holiday suite?
I liked the challenge of taking the traditional look of the holidays and playing with it in different ways that feel modern and chic, yet still evoke the spirit and feeling of joy from the season. Because I live in France and am endlessly inspired by the culture and my surroundings, I was inspired by 17th, 18th and 19th century interiors and decorative arts. The citrus fruits found in a 17th century jarden d’hiver (winter garden), the 19th century botanical paintings of Pierre-Joseph Redouté, 18th century toiles, but in the greens we typical think of for the holidays, and 19th century boiseries (woodwork) and molding inspired me when creating my collection. I liked giving them a touch of holiday spirit that felt seasonal, yet chic.
What was the process like designing your holiday suite with the Dogwood Hill team? What was your favorite part about the process?
I met Jennifer Hunt at an event in Nashville years ago at a dinner for creative women and entrepreneurs. However, I didn’t remember this until the moment we jumped on our first call and she introduced me to Lucy Young, who I would be collaborating with on this collection. We all talked about our love for and travels in France and the energy of that call between three creative women got me excited to work together, but also made me realize how similar we all were, even though we live on different continents. My favorite part was collecting ideas and inspiration and then watching Lucy translate this with her skills and talent. It was so magical!
What do you love most about the holiday season?
What I love most about the holidays is that more than any other time of the year, it is truly a time for gathering and fellowship. From work parties, gift exchange parties with friends, charity benefits to school and family gatherings – all these different parties and events bring people together around tables all around the world and I truly can’t get enough of it.
What is your favorite tradition?
When my first child was born, I decided it was a chance to set some new traditions with my own little family. Every year on the day we decorate the tree, we have a mini family party. We order a takeout feast for dinner, crank up the holiday music and get in the holiday spirit while we decorate. We also host a cookie decorating party the last Wednesday before school is out for the children and all their friends. They are very involved in the planning and decorating because they consider it “their” party.
What is your favorite holiday song?
Classic – The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting) by Nat “King” Cole and Natalie Cole; New – Winter Song by Leslie Odom Jr.
What is your go-to holiday hostess gift?
Monogrammed lip gloss from Buly, playing cards or cocktail napkins from Madame de la Maison, or specialty salts from a local shop or my travels.
Are you team white lights or colored whites?
Is there one holiday entertaining hack or secret you can share?
I don’t know if you can call it a hack or a secret, but I used to try various holiday recipes until a few years ago when I decided to try doing holiday entertaining more like the French do: massive seafood platter. They go to the fishmonger or the market then beautifully lay out oysters, shrimp, crab, lobsters, scallops, sea snails, smoked salmon, mussels, etc.. You can make it with what works for you or what is available. Then you can add some extras like winter vegetables, salad, special breads, dips, and sauces. This feels like a holiday entertaining hack to me because of all the time that I save and can devote to listening to music while I decorate the table and then spending time with my guests.
Who is your dream holiday party guest? If applicable, please share their Instagram handles.
Paula Sutton from @hillhousevintage, because I love her positive energy and she is a wonderfully talented storyteller and great conversationalist.
What are you most thankful for this year?
I am thankful that after wishing, dreaming, plotting and then working really hard, my book JOIE: A Parisian’s Guide to Celebrating the Good Life was released! Getting to tour around the states and see my family and meet readers was such a joy and reminder of how special gathering with people in real life is. I am very aware of other authors and creatives who released projects during the pandemic and didn’t have that opportunity, so I am immensely thankful.
Card Photography: Mary Margaret Smith