We talk to the founder of Buster + Punch about how the smallest details in homes can give the most character.
Buster + Punch might have unusual roots but it’s their backstory that shapes the practice’s instantly recognisable home fixtures. Raw solid materials disappear inside their studio and emerge with a refined edge; an ability founder Massimo Buster Minale mastered when he spent nights transforming vintage motorbikes into one-off customs. Whether it’s hardware, lighting or switches, the architect and industrial designer who cut his teeth at Foster & Partners and Richard Rogers, thinks outside the box for every design.
Massimo takes inspiration from a broad spectrum of creative disciplines. Style, he explains, is an energy not an aesthetic. He believes that products like his help clients create homes that reflect their personality; it’s an ethos that manifests in eye-catching detailing. Buster + Punch has also just launched a fashion line that, much like the home ranges, reimagines everyday essentials. It seems that for Massimo and his dynamic brand, anything is possible.
Putting down his power tools, Massimo steps back in time to tell us about his journey from the offices of some of the world’s most notable architects to setting up his own fittings business, and why it suits his high-speed thought process.
Massimo, can you tell me a bit about your background and your work as an architect?
I am an architect by trade. I graduated from the Bartlett, went on to work for Zaha Hadid, Foster & Partners and Richard Rogers. I worked on quite a few of London’s landmark buildings. It was great, I loved every minute of it.
Why move from architecture to the creation of Buster + Punch? Do you miss architecture?
Designing skyscrapers is very slow and my brain works very fast. By day, I would knuckle down on the architecture and then, when the sun went down, I started to make custom motorcycles in my garage in East London.
Word about my bikes got out and soon I was building them for London’s fashion designers, rock stars and the elite. These customers knew I was an architect and asked me to start making fittings and furniture for their homes too. That is how Buster + Punch was born – the love child of my passion for custom motorbikes, home accessories and architecture.
Where did the name come from?
My middle name is Buster and my brother’s Punch.
What inspires the brand and what do you think was missing from the design sector?
My personal work with bikes is led by the same reference points that guide Buster + Punch. The city of London, its sub-cultures and unique energy that you can only get here. I always aim to create spaces that provoke a reaction or feeling though – live without regret and let your interiors speak your personality.
The growth of digital content and how we consume it has had an impact on us all. We’re in a place now where you can’t isolate one creative discipline; art, culture, music, fashion, and architecture are all heading to a place where the boundaries are blurring. Style and individuality are more of an energy or attitude now. This is why my personal style and influences are far broader than just architecture or design. I draw more from fashion, cinematography, or custom motorcycles than I do so-called design trends, which are misleading and unsustainable.
What’s Buster + Punch mission statement?
We use our love of working with metals and precise engineering to reinvent forgotten home details, fittings and design and transform them into the unforgettable.
Can you tell me about your connection to motorcycles? And how this translates into the brand?
Continuing from what I mentioned earlier, custom motorcycles are all about creating something unique from scratch that reflects a client’s personality. You’re working hands on, using lots of techniques and high-quality materials to create a one-off expression, and the overall look is heavily influenced by the granular details. This extends into our work at Buster + Punch but on a much wider scale. We’re giving people the chance to express their style in their interiors, to connect them to their spaces through the tactility of the metal and our finishes.
Why do customers choose your fittings and ironmongery over others?
The blend of materials, the customisation options and the soul that our pieces have seem to connect with people that are open-minded and adventurous.
By day, I would knuckle down on the architecture and then, when the sun went down, I started to make custom motorcycles in my garage in East London.
- Massimo Buster Minale, Founder
Do clients often ask for guidance on how to bring together different metals or textures? What advice do you give – do you have a brand rulebook?
Not so much. What we have always tried to do is show that the core of every great design is the small details. They set the scene for everything else. Today, people put details and hardware high on the agenda when they’re planning an interior. There’s an understanding now – and our collections work around the principle that each piece combines effortlessly with other pieces in the collection. Whether it’s the material or the knurling, it’s very easy to pull together a very coherent aesthetic.
How did the fashion side begin?
Buster + Punch was never meant to be one thing in one genre. Creativity has moved on from the days when homeware was separate from fashion, which had no connection to industrial design and so on. The lines are blurred and that’s a good thing. We’re never going to sit idle, and we’ll always explore new genres with the same energy that we put into everything.
Is the fashion aimed for people with bikes?
Not at all. There’s an influence, sure, and a few garments that work under your leathers but they’re also nice everyday essentials.
Will clothing be a side of the business that grows?
I’d say so. Organically, we’re growing all parts of Buster + Punch as we see opportunities where we can bring something unexpected or challenge the status quo. One thing I will say is that we will never touch something we think has been designed well already.
Do you bring in other designers to work on things like lighting, furniture, fashion? Any collaborations of note?
Not very often. We’re a very genre-fluid label these days. There is no one set collaboration project we look out for. We’ve just released an electric motorcycle concept that sold out in under 5 minutes. And we’re soon releasing a collab with Travis Barker, one of the world’s hottest musicians and producers. If it’s a good fit for us and is something we can use to push an area or industry forward, then we’ll definitely consider it.
Have you done many full interior spaces? If so, where?
Aside from my own home, not since Buster + Punch began. That said, we’re introducing a new e-commerce concept built around our audience being able to shop by room. It’s called The House of Buster + Punch, and is an interactive live action-meets-digital content experience that brings our brand and our audience closer together than ever before. The power to design entire Buster + Punch spaces at a click.
Buster + Punch fittings and switches were used in this artful three-bedroom garden flat on St Marks Road.