Walking into Shari Currie’s vintage furniture shop in Hyde Park feels like walking into home.
At Recycled Modern, the art on the walls, plush furniture throughout the store, faint smell of incense and carefully placed home decor are all intentionally curated and styled to encourage you to stay a while and explore.
“I wanted to create a space where people could feel comfortable with shopping for home decor,” Currie said. “Interior design doesn’t have to be stuffy and exclusive. It can be luxurious and inclusive.”
As a Black woman in the interior design and furniture space, making antique and vintage furniture accessible to her community is something that has long been of interest to the Chicago native. In addition, creating a space at Recycled Modern in which people feel safe, welcome, and supported is at the root core of who she is even outside of the business.
Currie previously operated her shop in Lincoln Park. While business was doing well, she didn’t feel that she was engaging and creating community among her patrons and neighborhood in the way she truly wanted to.
As someone who sources the pieces in her store largely from Black designers and people of color, Currie said the trending interior design aesthetics – neutrals, rich and authentic woods and art – has been influenced by Black culture and she wanted to create a space in which that was recognized and celebrated.
Since moving into her location at Harper Court in Hyde Park in November, Currie has not only been curating a collection of vintage furniture that people easily envision in their own homes, but she’s also been creating opportunities for designers of color to host panels and interactive programming in the store.
“The shop is like a home decor store, art gallery and a lounge,” Currie said. “Networking should be social … So if I can connect somebody to furniture and its designer in an approachable way and add a cocktail and a cool DJ, I’m gonna do it. That’s all the way up my alley.”
Designers who have found community at Recycled Modern include Norman Teague, Daniel Overbey and Jacob Colehill who all recently not only had work on display (and for sale) in Currie’s shop, but they also participated in a panel where they discussed their work and design inspirations.
“Norman Teague is by far one of my favorite furniture designers. His craftsmanship, his bold approach to the colors and his modern but interesting take on curves and sculptural chairs is something that I love,” Currie said. “When he came by the shop and said we should do something together I was totally fangirling because I’d been a fan of his work for a long time.”
Being able to be in community with designers who inspire her is a dream come true for Currie, who always had a love and appreciation for beautiful furniture. With a background in event planning and fundraising, the transition to vintage furniture sales in 2018 felt natural to Currie.
“I wanted to tell my story in a different way,” she said. “I activate the space in a way that makes people want to shop here. They understand what the space means. They hear the music and see the copies of Jet magazine and [it] speaks to the culture and makes the interior design approachable and familiar.”
She said it’s humbling when folks make themselves so at home,staying to the point that she has to approach folks sitting on a couch chatting or admiring work on the wall that the shop will be closing for the night.
For now, she’s going to continue to hold programming and events in the store, including a special closing reception for Norman Teague Studios residency in the space on October 8th from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
If you go: Aside from continuous programming, the offerings inside Recycled Modern are constantly changing. Make sure you check their Instagram for updates on upcoming events, workshops, and new pieces to the store. 5231 S Harper Ct, Chicago, IL 60615.
Samantha Callender is a digital reporting fellow for WBEZ. Follow her across socials @OnYourCallender.