JESSICA ANTOLA PHOTOGRAPHS THE 'GOOD LIFE' IN PARIS FOR AJIRI AKI'S NEW BOOK, 'JOIE'
"In this beautifully photographed volume of everything French, Ajiri shares what she’s learned about living in Paris—from hosting the perfect apéro (happy hour) to lingering around town like a flâneur (loafer) to thrifting for antiques at the market," explains Madame le Maison, Ajiri's lifestyle brand website.
Below, Jessica recalls how she and Ajiri met, their shared love of France, and how they worked together to create the images for the book…
“Ajiri and I met at a party in NYC in 2010. We had both lived in Paris at the same time before moving to NYC and immediately bonded over our love for living in France.
A few years later, Ajiri met her Swiss German husband in NYC and relocated back to Paris. I continued to spend time in France every year and would always see her when I visited. I introduced Ajiri to my Paris friends, and she developed friendships with them as well. It made visiting Paris even more fun to see all my dear friends together."
"Ajiri is originally from West Africa (Nigeria) and was intrigued by my West African travels. She hosted a fabulous West African party for me in 2018 when I had a my book signing at Ofr. in Paris for Circadian Landscape. I saw Ajiri’s amazing hosting skills on full display and her attention to every thoughtful detail—from the African wax textile table runner she made to go with her her Madame de la Maison linens to the antique French platters serving up West African dishes from her childhood to the watercolored menus and postcards she commissioned for the party. This party was featured in Domino magazine (read the article and see images here). (Also, in this Domino article Ajiri writes our backstory better than I just have! ;))
So when Ajiri approached me about shooting Joie, I of course didn’t hesitate. I love France and Ajiri, and it sounded like a dream project. As we all know, books are true passion projects and the approach is vastly different from shooting a commercial job. Ajiri and I had to trust one another and feel comfortable spending loads of time together."
"I shot Joie during two separate trips to France. The initial shoot was nine days, and the second was about a week long. During these two trips, we worked around the clock to align our timing with our locations, people, budget, and weather to make the most of our shoot days. We both had to wear many hats and move quickly and efficiently since we didn’t have assistants, producers, or stylists with us. Ajiri carried her wardrobe to all our locations, and we gained access to photograph these special places with our polite requests in French.
It was imperative that I had a strong grasp of and familiarity with France to shoot this book. The topics covered in Joie resonated with me and I instinctively knew how to approach them though my extensive knowledge of French culture and from having lived and worked there for over five years. Looking back, I realize how fortunate we were to cover so many amazing locations in Joie during these two trips.”
Book Launch Party in NYC
Flashback: when Domino featured Jessica and Ajiri
In 2018, Ajiri threw a meticulously planned party for the release of Jessica’s book, Circadian Landscape, and Domino published a feature on the fête. Below is an excerpt from the story, which includes a portrait of Jessica and Ajiri.