The Modern Republic, a midcentury modern home decor shop recently opened by long-time friends Kenya Abdul Hadi and Steven Brown on Girard Ave in North Philly is a colorful, ebullient and very large, high-ceilinged space filled with tastefully curated and thoughtfully placed furniture, lamps, pottery, paintings and rugs from (mostly) midcentury.
After welcoming me to browse the first-floor space – I admired a set of ’70s Italian red and metal dining chairs with woven seats so co-owner Steve Brown brought one down for me to sit in (surprisingly comfortable) – he escorted me down to a huge basement showroom where many items were organized on shelves by eye-pleasing colors. He explained that the basement space housed mostly vintage art (I noted a piece by Peter Gee) while upstairs art, for the most part, is more recent and done by local artists.
A modern republic, by definition, is a place where sovereignty rests with the people, and a big goal of Abdul Hadi and Brown is to uplift. As successful African-American males who grew up in “rough” neighborhoods in Philly, they intentionally chose a space in North Philly as they are aware that the area is typically associated with drugs, guns, crime and poverty and they wanted to offer something of beauty – vibrant works of abstract modern art, leather chairs and cool lighting. A small piece of pottery spoke to me and I took it home for $26. It looks lovely on my hall table.