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Preserving and reinventing mid-century modern in the 21st century


In the past two decades Dallas’ art and design scene has exploded with new talents and destinations. Old became new again; historic communities, such as Cedars near downtown, are bustling with life, vibrancy and businesses. Long-standing buildings and structures are repurposed, updated and lovingly preserved, exciting residents and visitors with a sense of historic continuity, nostalgia and civil pride.

The efforts of this invigoration come from many sources: from coffeehouses to restaurants and, of course, businesses, such as City Modern 5, located in the historic building of Hotel Newland, still graced with its original sign. The location of this unique business cannot be better suited for its purpose-offering customers an extensive collection of authentic furniture, art and objects from the mid-century modern period. Ranging from rare designer pieces to moderately priced items, City Modern 5 has something for everyone. Whether you are a knowledgeable collector or a young urbanite with a flair for design, you are sure to find your treasure.

The appointment-only business model allows owners Melissa Cherry and Omar Akaweih to provide a range of services to their clients not generally available in other boutiques. Their expertise lies, in equal parts, in extensive knowledge of the period and their styling and design services. Additionally, clients are not limited to the existing inventory. If there is a piece, or a designer, you’re interested in, City Modern 5 will help you to locate it.

The unusual name the owners selected carries a special meaning. Modern correlates with the modern style of furnishings they offer. City is the location. And five is the compilation of objects and services they provide: furniture, art, objects, design & styling. Together they make up City Modern 5—a catchy and memorable brand name.

Cherry and Akaweih opened the store in 2013, when they realized that their background, experience and love for mid-century design created a unique platform for business. Working in the advertising industry, producing, casting, location scouting and designing sets, Cherry and Akaweih honed their skills in locating, selecting and styling mid-century modern items in the context of the new millennium.

“I have always been drawn to the mid-century modern aesthetic, especially designers like Charles and Ray Eames. Furniture of that period has a classic, timeless appeal. It works really well in a variety of environments. It seems to be able to blend with them without losing its own presence,” says Akaweih, an artist and designer in his own right. “I started frequenting auctions and estate sales, and at first bought pieces that required restoration. Now we try to focus on products that are in good to perfect condition that can go directly to our clients’ homes. Of course, when a rare find comes our way, we rely on professionals to bring it back to its original glory.”

In addition to estate sales and auctions, the duo travels across the country in search of mid-century modern treasures. Prompted further, they hint that the Midwest is rich in many interesting finds. “We prefer to obtain designer pieces, but we never limit ourselves,” says Cherry. “We want to continue to appeal to all kinds of clientele, from high-end to moderate.”

“Our perfect customer is an educated consumer, who understands quality, background, history and the aesthetic of the period,” adds Akaweih. “However, we are here to answer questions, educate and help. It is important to show people the difference in construction and quality between original mid-century décor and cheap contemporary reproductions.”

The enthusiasm and energy of the owners of City Modern 5 is contagious. It is easy to see why their offerings appeal to such a broad range of people. With established relationships within the interior designer community and a growing following of clients, they are quickly becoming a go-to destination for mid-century modern finds.

Tatyana Murphy is a Dallas-based creative professional, freelance writer and editor, who specializes in fashion, art and design.

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