Antone Barnes: From Once Designing Music Careers to Home, Interior Design

Along with partner, San Francisco 49ers' Vernon Davis, Barnes creates his own path while living his dream

Working in the music field usually displays creativity and passion surrounded by talent and ability and it showcases, typically, the best the industry has to offer. That’s also usually the case with people working behind the scenes who are equally, if not more, passionate about working with the talent and/or product at hand.

As an executive in this fickle world, Antone Barnes found a place he felt comfortable in and made a nice career out of it. But, as things changed, so did his mindset and goals.

The talented and well-connected man then set his sights in an area that has nothing to do with the music but, on the other hand, it required the same passion and determination and a new path was created.

And after being approached several times by future partner, San Francisco 49er, Vernon Davis, about working together, the time was right for the Modern Class Design.

BlackEnterprise.com: Having a music industry background, what made you decide to go into starting a design company?

Antone Barnes: I have always been a creative individual. I entered the music industry when I felt artists were using their creativity more to show their individuality. The industry began to lose that flair and I eventually lost my desire to continue my career in that field. However, during my travels while working in the industry I was able to visit different art galleries, museums and exhibits that helped to pique my interest to explore my own creative pathway.

What gets you going as far as wanting to do what you do?

Actually it’s what happens at the end of a project that gives me the motivation to begin…the look on the faces of the clients, their excitement, gratitude and appreciation for what has been accomplished. Looking at something that you created from beginning to end come into existence is an exhilarating feeling.

I know you appeal to athletes and higher end clients, is this by design?

My first big budget home design contract was for an athlete — and upon completion of that assignment — I received more referrals for jobs to work on homes of people working in that field. So to answer your question, I developed a client list of athletes and people in that world simply by chance. However, I consider myself and Modern Class Design to be diverse and we can work with clients who have varying budgets.

How did you end up partnering with Vernon Davis?

I was approached by Vernon on several occasions with the idea of starting a company however, it was not until the third time that I decided to forge ahead and co-found Modern Class Design.

You’ve worked with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Prince and Jay-Z, to name a few, how did the experience of artists of that stature shape the way you do business?

Their artistic talents have inspired my passion for creativity in my field and to push the envelope creatively. And working with such distinguished individuals has enhanced my ability to maintain a professional demeanor regardless of the status of the client.

You’re involved in charity work as well, what prompts you to give back and do you have any programs you work with and/or are planning on working with?

I was influenced by watching my father who started several successful businesses and was a firm believer in giving back to the community which supported him. Without going into all of the details, I have an upcoming project in the works which will help to build schools in under-developed nations.

The uniqueness of your company is that you are both black men from different realms of the industry, what are the qualities the two of you bring that helps compliment your business endeavors?

The business partnership with an athlete exposed me to certain trends and design styles which are popular within that community.  And my creative eye and knowledge of art teamed with this helps us to expand our clients’ interest in art. And a key facet of our work is exposing our clients to art that is related to their individual cultural backgrounds and incorporating that into our designs.

What is your long term goal for your business and yourself, in general?

The goal for myself and Modern Class Design is to continue to expand the company. I’m also working on writing a couple of books. One about interior design and another that focuses on my life and the challenges that I’ve faced and have been able to overcome. I’ve also been speaking to TV producers about doing a show revolving around the work we do at MCD.

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