Behind the Design: Massimo Buster Minale

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These days, few design brands typify the meaning of ‘cool’ in a way that is effortlessly unaffected and unfeigned: Buster + Punch is one such brand. Combining the elements of design, fashion, art and music, Buster + Punch delivers hardcore, high-end products that enthral an audience of design devotees. Masterminded by Massimo Buster Minale—a passionate and energetic London architect and industrial designer—Buster + Punch is a carefully crafted, solid and serious design concern. And it delivers style with undeniable verve to boot.

Massimo launched Buster + Punch in 2013, from a garage in London’s hip East End. Having worked at Foster + Partners and thereafter building his own agency—Minale + Mann—Massimo was well placed to kick-start this exciting new venture. With an insatiable appetite for design, manufacturing, metalwork, motorbikes and music, Massimo and his stalwart team have created a truly refined collection of covetable wares. At Buster + Punch, collaborations with street artists, bike builders, musicians and fashion designers help deliver products that are unexpected and elegant, savvy and smart. From the brand’s first designs, including the innovative ‘Hooked’ lights and ‘Rockstar’ whiskey bar, to its latest creations—‘Caged’ and the ‘Stoned’ table light—Buster + Punch is continuously breathing new life into an increasingly formulaic design industry.

With Buster + Punch, Massimo Buster Minale is perfecting a mash-up of ‘old-school hardware shop meets luxury fashion brand’, in a bid to deliver the world’s first resolute home fashion label.

Gessato gets behind the design with Massimo Buster Minale.

Complete the sentence: Buster + Punch is the epitome of…

… a disruptive interior brand.

Buster + Punch came into being in 2013. What has surprised or excited you most about its evolution to date?

We always set out to design aspirational and extraordinary products—like whisky bars, chandeliers, customer motorbikes etc. However, what has surprised and excited us in equal measure, is the unbelievable response we get to the most ‘ordinary’ of products: our light switches, door handles and LED light bulbs for example. We can start to see that you don’t have to design ‘shouty’ products to grab the world’s attention; it is often the smallest details that will surprise people and make the biggest impact.

From my perspective, Buster + Punch is a sexy, solid and striking label. What, in your opinion, differentiates the brand from its contemporaries?

I don’t think there’s a contemporary out there today that has moved into our lane, so to speak; thus I think it’s hard to say just what it is that distinguishes us. We are trying to blaze a trail as the world’s first brand to take all of the details in your home that may have been considered ‘functional’ or ‘forgotten’, and transform them into the parts you love the most [see the Buster + Punch ‘Electricity‘ and ‘Hardware‘ ranges for instance]. We are a new type of one-stop hardware store that is much closer to a luxury fashion brand than a Home Depot. Buster + Punch is striving to be the world’s first home fashion label—it’s exciting, unknown territory.

Buster + Punch is a London-born design gem. What is it about the capital that inspires your creativity?

To be honest, as a very London brand we don’t know anything else. For me, the spirit of London design today is the fact that it’s built on a collective of individuals and brands, all with very different styles—much like the fashion scene in the 90s. You travel to Copenhagen or New York, and all the designers are great, but they all look the same. Then you travel to London and every design looks different: it is this uniqueness that sets London apart.

You have a handsome store in Stockholm’s smart Östermalm district. How does Stockholm’s design scene compare to London’s?

Following on from my previous answer, the thing I like about our store in Stockholm is that we stick out like a sore thumb. We use heavy, solid metals and materials, whereas Scandinavian design is typically light, neutral and plated [covered or veneered]. In terms of actual design, the big difference I’ve noticed is one where Scandinavian design is always well considered, will look amazing in your home and doesn’t cost the earth. With London design, it tends to be hit-or-miss—it is either amazing or lacking, cheap or expensive, but that’s also its charm.

Buster + Punch has some cool collaborations under its belt, including the Q Awards, Harrods, Haeckels and Bonshaker Choppers. Who would you love to collaborate with in the future?

We are currently working on several exciting new collaborations, from a very large clothing brand to an A-list musician. However, for me personally, I have always wanted to work with [American fashion designer] Alexander Wang. Our brands have a similar lifestyle story to tell and our palette is also alike. Hopefully he will come knocking soon!

With—what appears to be—a swift rise in the world of contemporary high-end design, how does Buster + Punch remain grounded?

These are certainly exciting times to be an interiors brand: people are now realising that their homes are just as important, if not more so, than their clothes. We remain grounded as we have already planned our product type launches for the next five years! We have a very clear goal in terms of where we want to be and how we want to excite our customers; now it’s simply a case of getting the work done.

What’s on the horizon for Buster + Punch?

We are all focused on Euroluce in Milan, where we are launching two new and exciting lighting collections [Eurouce was a part of the Salone del Mobile, 4th to 9th April 2017]. The new ranges [‘Caged’ and ‘Stoned’] will be our largest to date and have been a labour of love over the past two years. The collections will take our patented LED technology to the next level, giving lighting lovers a glimpse into how good the future will look.

Who, in today’s architecture, design or fashion arenas, are you watching; who is triggering your curiosity?

I don’t follow many designers, as I prefer to draw inspiration from outside our industry. Nevertheless, my current top three are: The Unseen, where a designer [Lauren Bowker] transforms materials into magic; Saint Laurent, with the amazing transformation of a once great brand into a new great brand; and Jason Miller, a Brooklyn-based lighting designer who I have always admired.

When are you most happy and content?

When I am with my family. I have a beautiful wife and a three-year-old boy, who has started his ‘magic year’.

Gerard McGuickin

Gerard

I’m a design writer, lover and aficionado, living in a modish neighbourhood in south Belfast. My writing is studied and yet uninhibited, and my perspective on design is typically punctilious and urbane. My thinking is often guided by Dieter Rams’ ten principles for good design. I have an educational background in psychology (MSc + BSc) and believe in the potential for design to improve our daily quality of life. And without affectation, I value that which is aesthetically pleasing and inspiring (great design excites my imagination). Find out more at Walnut Grey Design.

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