Massimo Buster Minale, the British-born, Stockholm-based founder of home fittings label Buster + Punch, offers a glimpse into the life and logic behind his distinctive furniture hardware and lighting.
WHAT SPARKED YOUR OBSESSION WITH HARDWARE FOR THE HOME?
I started out as an architect, working for big London firms in London like Foster + Partners and Richard Rogers, but I was spending all my spare time fixing up motorbikes and engineering metal stuff for friends.
Buster + Punch was the lovechild born of my interests in architecture, motorbike hardware and anything metal. That’s why our stuff is very analogue, in that it’s heavy and tactile.
I couldn’t understand why you’d put all this money into wallpaper or furniture and then put up with a door handle that falls off or doesn’t feel great under-hand. These details can really alter the quality of a space, and you rarely change them out, so you’ve got one shot to get them right. We became the guys that take an overlooked interior fitting like a light switch and make it cool.
BESIDES BIKES, WHERE DO YOU TAKE DESIGN CUES FROM?
When we started nearly 10 years ago, interior design wasn’t a sphere that young, fashion- conscious people felt connected to in the way they do now.
I loved the creative buzz of the fashion, music, street art and tattoo industries around where I was living in East London and wanted to bring that energy into interiors. One of our signature looks is the cross-knurl, a diamond-cut pattern [reminiscent of] motorbike handlebars that can turn a cabinet fitting into an interesting physical experience.
We are constantly trying to come up with new ways to manipulate and fabricate metal. The new Cast range includes a T-bar drawer pull made up of a pressure-cast knuckle with a machine-polished bar threaded through it, which is almost impossible to do but I really wanted to get that lovely contrast of rough and smooth.
WHERE DOES ILLUMINATION FIGURE IN YOUR PRIORITIES?
Lighting is where all the magic happens. If you want a space to feel cozy, or luxurious like a boutique hotel, the right lighting can do it. That’s why we’ve grown our range of lights over the years to include all kinds of spotlights, wall, table and ceiling lights, including the new Forked range of fittings, shades and globes.
Buster + Punch is known for its industrial- style light fixtures, but LED innovation has also been a massive part of the business ever since 2015 when we beat the big boys to create the world’s first designer LED bulb.
YOU COLLABORATE WIDELY OUTSIDE YOUR INDUSTRY—WHY IS THAT IMPORTANT?
The way we got started was by collaborating with friends, giving a different spin to things, like the biker boots and matching lightshade we did with shoe designer Justin Deakin early on.
I love to create things that rub some people up the wrong way, that get you thinking and evoke an emotion. We recently worked with American drummer Travis Barker on a capsule collection of skull-inspired hardware, and before that with [Swedish vehicle maker] Cake on an electric motorbike. I see no point in redesigning the same old stuff for the sake of it, every product needs to bring something new.
DOES LIVING OUTSIDE YOUR HOME CITY GIVE YOU FRESH PERSPECTIVE?
Stockholm has a lot going on for such a small city, but Buster + Punch is synonymous with London so I still spend a week of every month back there.
London is such a tough city; if you stay away too long you get soft. The family and I spend a bit of time in Los Angeles too, particularly now we have a showroom in North Hollywood. When in Melbourne I can see that people here have a natural affinity with the East London vibe because they’re design- obsessed.
Australian interior design is the best in the world at the moment. Designers here seem to see our brand in a different way; I loved seeing our cabinet pulls used as coat hooks in a hotel the other day, for example.
HOW DID YOU APPROACH YOUR OWN HOME RENOVATION?
Our house is a graveyard for my designs that didn’t get past prototype stage. My wife and I bought this quaint old Bauhaus on Lake Mälaren and then set about giving it an industrial warehouse vibe that would remind us of London.
The problem is we built a house for two single people and then a couple of kids came along, so I had an indoor glass-walled garage constructed for my motorbikes that ended up becoming a parking spot for prams.
Like most young families we’re always in the kitchen, so I deliberated over every element in that room, and that ended up forming the basis of the Buster + Punch kitchen range unveiled earlier this year. The other bit I obsessed over was the art; I love oil portraiture and collecting work by up-and-comers.
HOW BIG DO YOU DREAM FOR BUSTER + PUNCH?
As a founder, you never stop dreaming of how big you can get. People became more invested in where and how they live during the pandemic, and I think there’s a mindset shift away from throwaway culture to appreciate the longevity of well-made products for your space.
We’re in over 100 countries now and have grown our collection to the point we can offer full room sets, so if you’re into brass you can kit out an entire bathroom or kitchen with our brass fittings. We’re always working three years ahead so more room sets are coming soon, and I’m excited about something we’ve been working on that’s set to challenge big names in smart furniture.
The Buster + Punch range is available to view at Living Edge showrooms in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.
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