*NFL tight end Vernon Davis of the San Francisco 49ers is tackling a new endeavor off the field, the business of interior design and urban renewal projects, with the launch of his new company, Modern Class Design (MCD).
Founded with veteran music industry executive Antone Barnes, their goal with MCD is to continue serving current clientele who are predominantly athletes, while expanding into urban renewal projects in inner-city communities across the nation.
“I grew up in a rough neighborhood in DC and so did my business partner, Antone, who’s from Jersey City,” Davis explains. “We were surrounded by graffiti and abandoned houses where there were no parks, and very few rec centers or safe places to go. It shouldn’t be that way and we’re planning to change that with MCD, one project at a time.”
Barnes agrees. “We want people who come from neighborhoods similar to ours to enjoy the revival of their communities instead of being pushed out,” he says. “On a personal note, I want to continue the legacy of urban renewal that my father began nearly 30 years ago in Jersey City.”
MCD is currently in talks with officials from the city of San Francisco and Washington, D.C public schools to do urban renewal projects that would positively impact children and communities in both cities. “We want to be involved in projects that will improve people’s lives,” says Davis.
MCD prides itself on creating interior spaces for athletes and other clients that are suited to the client’s taste, but still affordable.
“You don’t have to break your bank to live well and have style,” says Davis. “I always tell players, this moment won’t last forever, so plan for the future.” An avid painter who majored in Studio Art at The University of Maryland, Davis says his design company evolved organically. “I saw Antone’s home, loved his art collection and then we collaborated on my homes in San Jose and Maryland. After he designed my younger brother Vontae’s house, who plays for the Miami Dolphins, players started calling and we realized there was a demand for our business.”
“What we’ve found most gratifying with our clients, many of whom are affluent, is that they appreciate our efforts to create beautiful spaces while protecting their interests,” says Barnes.
A signature component of MCD is to make first-time art collectors out of their clients.
“Vernon’s a painter, so he has a passion for art as do I,” says MCD co-founder Barnes. So while working to give clients the home of their dreams on a sustainable budget, MCD also incorporates original and limited edition artwork from emerging and well-established artists into all design projects. “Surrounding our clients with inspirational works of art from varying cultures while introducing them to the experience of collecting art as an investment is a powerful contribution we hope to continue making on each project,” says Barnes. “The fact that our clients get to own great artwork and support talented artists at the same time is a beautiful thing,” Barnes adds.
Among the artists whose work they have used so far include:the late master Jacob Lawrence, Warren Goodson, Kadir Nelson, Lorna Simpson, Martin Puryear, Willie Cole, Norma Nava, Rumiana Koleva, Marko D and the iconic Keith Haring. Miami Dolphins cornerback Sean Smith, a former MCD client, now owns a one-of-a-kind sports themed sculpture designed especially for him by renowned sculptor Dan Meyer. Also in Smith’s collection is a limited edition piece by contemporary artist Lorna Simpson. Other MCD clients also include Reshad Jones of the Miami Dolphins, Anthony Davis and Aldon Smith of the San Francisco 49ers and Jade Financial Management, an East Coast sports financial company.
Davis and Barnes will officially launch Modern Class Design with an event in the Bay area on December 4th with proceeds benefiting the non-profit organization The Vernon and Vontae Davis Family Foundation. Among the programs supported by the charity include The Vernon Davis Visual Arts Scholarship Fund, programs for children of drug addicted parents and the Sound Mind Sound Body Football Academy, which provides inner-city athletes with college scholarships.
“Living well should be available for everyone,” says Davis. “That’s what MCD is all about.”