Courtesy of Buster + Punch
Chances are you don’t remember—but if it was one from Buster + Punch, you wouldn’t forget. With lines of smoked bronze toggles, brass skull furniture knobs, and other home fixtures and furnishings, it’s no wonder the London-based interior products brand proudly proclaims “We are metal” on their product homepage.
They come by their metal aesthetic and ethos honestly. Born in a garage in the artsy Shoreditch neighborhood in 2013, Buster + Punch is the brainchild of founder Massimo Buster Minale. We caught up with him recently to learn how this architect-by-day, custom-motorbike-builder-by-night honed his craft into a home fittings juggernaut, serving up statement pieces that are equal parts elegant, attitude, and—quite literally—heavy metal.
Modern In Denver: You were an architect and motorbike designer before starting Buster + Punch. How did that transition to designing home fittings, lighting fixtures, and interior spaces?
Massimo Buster Minale: It all started in a small motorcycle garage in East London. I am an architect by trade and used to work for a large architectural practice by day and build custom motorcycles by night, which slowly become my great love. We used to build bikes for a bunch of interesting clients, from rock stars to fashion designers, and it wasn’t long before people discovered my past as an architect and began asking me to make things for their homes—everything from light fittings to furniture. Five years ago, interior product brands were very neutral and a little bland. I saw a gap in the market to build exciting interior fittings made from rare, solid materials that would stand out from the crowd. People responded, and in 2013, Buster + Punch was born.
MID: Buster + Punch’s use of solid metals seems like a natural connection to your personal background as a motorbike designer. Why are you so drawn to metals?
MBM: As a very hands-on designer, for me the physical weight and texture of the metal is at the core of what we do. The lasting quality of the metal is important to us. We want to make pieces that are future heirlooms for our customers, where the beauty and function lasts. We do use other materials, but solid metal will always be our passion.
MID: Your products are so well made and show an incredible attention to detail. Have you had any challenges with manufacturing at such a fine level? Or opportunities?
MBM: We’re a fluid brand and, unlike some other interiors labels, we’re very responsive to change and opportunity. We recently released our third look, Cast, which sees Buster + Punch use solid cast metal in combination with highly polished sections. It’s a very complex process that creates a one-of-a-kind piece each time— your own limited edition of one. Making anything is challenging, whether it’s on a small or large scale, but we embrace and overcome obstacles to create pieces and collections that can only be Buster + Punch. That blend of quality, aesthetics, and an independent attitude.
MID: Tell us a bit about your new lighting collection.
MBM: One of the central elements of Buster + Punch is that our collections combine seamlessly with each other. So you can combine design details, lighting, furniture, and accessories to create spaces that always have a red thread. Our newest lighting collection, Forked, is one that combines all of our signature looks and techniques into one light that slides effortlessly into a Buster + Punch interior. It’s also larger in scale, and modular, so it gives a broader scope for achieving the kind of lighting design that suits you. You can add a spun metal shade for a softer, more focused light, or a shade and a handblown glass globe for an aesthetic hit, or open it up with a globe on its own for ambient light. It’s very versatile and equally striking in its look.
MID: Which current elements of London culture most inspire you and your designs?
MBM: London changes fast, so there’s always something to pull the attention. Architecture of course still plays an active role for us, and we keep an eye on emerging designers and artists from London’s colleges. For me though, it’s the pockets of subculture that bubble up in the streets, an inspirational sensory tour that perpetuates itself in a forward direction.
MID: Who are a few musicians and artists you find particularly inspiring?
MBM: My art collection includes originals from the likes of Ryan Hewitt, Seth Armstrong, Kyle Barnes, and Matt Small.
MID: What new products and projects are you working on now?
MBM: This year marks ten years since we took Buster + Punch out of my old garage and gave it a name. We’re having a celebration and mounting an installation during London Design Festival to mark the occasion, but it’s also a year that we’re getting back to our roots. It’s an opportunity to remind ourselves and our followers what we do best: redefining everyday details that change people’s connection to their surroundings.