Ingenuity and Inspiration Runs in the Veins of Buster + Punch

Massimo Minale shares how past lives in architecture and motorcycle making led to his current endeavor: a design studio that applies its focus on metalworking and engineering to everything from architectural finishes to furniture, and more.

Massimo Minale of Buster + Punch. Credit (all images): Courtesy of Buster + Punch

You could say design runs deep in the veins of Buster + Punch founder Massimo Minale: the trained architect by day, custom motorcycle maker by night learned a great deal about timelessness and streamlined design from his father Marcello. Through his creative studio, Minale & Tattersfield, the elder Minale crafted brand identities for the likes of Fendi, Harrods, Valentino, and Armani. Fast forward to today, and Massimo is celebrating 10 years of presiding over his own studio.

Inspired by a dearth of high-end door knobs, faucets, and light switches befitting the caliber of architecture projects he was spearheading, Massimo channeled his masterful metalworking skills cultivated from his affinity for making motorcycles and struck out on his own. Since then, Buster + Punch’s offerings have expanded to include furniture, collectible design, and more. His influences are wide-ranging: the recently launched steel-and-leather Chopper chair draws inspiration from his father’s archival designs for a pony-haired version dating back to the 1970s. The brand’s lineup of custom whiskey bars was launched to the greater public after Massimo was tapped to create a bespoke option for a private client—for whom the designer had already hand-crafted a custom motorcycle. Collaborations with the likes of Harrods, Rolls Royce, and Cake Bike have propelled Minale forward in his quest to constantly innovate.

On its surface, Buster + Punch may not seem easy to categorize, but simplicity reigns supreme in Minale’s eyes. “We’re a design studio that works mainly with solid metal and precise engineering, and we believe that details are the most important part of an interior,” he tells Surface. “However, we see Buster + Punch as a brand you carry with you through your life because what we do and who we are resonates with you as a person. Our clients, customers and followers give feedback on things they’d like us to explore, and we often meet in the middle. We’re definitely not the kind of brand you can pigeonhole and that’s very deliberate. To always be relevant, interesting, and innovative, you can’t allow the dust to settle.”

Surface spoke with Minale about bringing metalworking techniques from the world of motorcycles to interiors, his father’s practice as a source of continued inspiration, and his recipe for a winning and worth-it brand collaboration.

Let’s talk about the heritage behind Buster + Punch. What lessons have you carried into your own work from your father’s prolific career?

Where my father is concerned, the main thing I’ve lifted from his work is that many of the most iconic forms or expressions are simple and pure. He would use a logo or small graphic icon where other designers would have combined loads of copy and images. We try to be disciplined in our pieces and brand journey. He was also quick to adapt to change and embrace new things. I see that in myself and the way Buster + Punch is fluid in how we work and explore new creative paths. 

You have a few past lives—practicing architect, motorcycle maker, and then Buster + Punch started with a core collection of premium hardware. How does that influence what the brand is involved with today? 

The brand has always been a way for me to combine my passions. Architecture, design, and motorbikes will always be core sources of inspiration and passion, and they feed into each other really well. For example, the cross knurling metalworking process that we introduced to the world of interior detailing is used a lot in motorbikes. 

Collaborations seem to run deep in the Buster + Punch DNA. They range from fashion (Harrods and Justin Deakin) to motorcycles (Mutt and Cake Bike), Los Angeles producer and musician Travis Barker, and the inimitable Rolls Royce. What makes the right fit for a creative partner, in your eyes?

We do collaborations when there’s a connection between Buster + Punch and the collaborator. We’re not specifically looking for a specific level of “fame” or celebrity—it’s more a case of asking if the brand or person brings us something interesting to explore. The creative spark between people or brands is what ignites our collaborations.

You’ve recently celebrated a ten-year milestone with your company. What’s next? How do you avoid stagnation and stay fresh when ideating? 

My mind has always moved fast, and as a brand we’re very fluid and agile. When you combine that with a diverse pot of influences that’s outside of the industry, it helps you stay mobile and avoid stagnation. When you look back at what Buster + Punch has done over ten years, you can see the evolution of a brand that started with the idea of creating a world of solid metal detailing and moved towards the concept that you can pull one of our finishes or looks to an entire home or project. We’ll be exploring this more over the years to come. We also want to continue to develop new looks to give people more freedom to express their individuality within a space while still being coherent and seamless. 

What highlights from the brand’s recent launches and collaborations are you excited about?

We’ve got some great things in the pipeline for the next year, like the release of our bathroom collection and Caged Wet, our first wet-rated lighting. We’re responding to calls from our customers and followers to develop a “one-stop” collection that brings our aesthetic into their homes with real consistency. It’s about being able to design with details as the foundation from which an aesthetic evolves. Nail the details first and everything else glides into place effortlessly. 

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