You may know them and love their products – but how did your favourite interiors brands come to be? Today, we’re discovering how the home fashion label Buster + Punch started off in a garage in East London.
Massimo Buster Minale is the founder and creative director of interiors brand Buster + Punch, which offers statement hardware, lighting, furniture and more. The architect and industrial designer took ordinary home fittings and transformed them into striking must-haves.
But let’s find out how it all started from Massimo…
When did you first notice you had an interest in design?
I’ve always been surrounded by design. My dad, Marcello Minale Senior, was a furniture designer and co-founded Minale Tattersfield & Partners – and my brothers are designers, too. My passion ignited when I started to build small metal models after school.
What were your first creations?
I rode scrambler motorbikes with my brother from when I was about 14 years old. We took old beaten-up ones and fashioned new parts for them from metal scrap. This continued for years until I left school and started to study architecture. Bike parts turned into small metal models of spaces and buildings, which finally turned into full-scale light fittings and cabinets.
Do you remember where you were and what you were doing when you first had the idea for Buster + Punch?
The thought had been bubbling up inside me for some years while I was working as an architect. I struggled to find the touch-point fittings – if I spotted a nice brass light switch in France, it was almost impossible to get a matching door handle.
I was already starting to experiment with making my own in the workshop at the back of my house, using the same solid metals so everything looked and felt the same.
Can you tell us about the journey from that first idea, to your first day of trading?
I had a dream, and a few flight cases of nice products I managed to make in my garage. By day I was still working as an architect, and by night I built custom motorcycles. I was fortunate enough to sell a few, plus some custom light fittings and furniture.
My customers were fashion designers, musicians, artists, and creatives from East London. They encouraged me to make the leap. Once I had scraped together enough money, I quit my job, strapped my flight cases to my motorbike and took them to every architect, designer, and retailer I thought would be interested.
What were the first Buster + Punch products that were created and sold?
A home whisky bar called The Rockstar. It was first made for a young George Clooney and slowly, interest started to build. However, the two small, knurled cabinet knobs on top stole the show. We were inundated with requests.
What were those first years of Buster + Punch like? How were they different to now?
Buster + Punch was full of like-minded makers. No one had attempted to transform home fittings into things of beauty. It was a very exciting time, packed with creativity and lots of partying. A few years later, we focused on the business side to ensure our longevity. Today, it has more rigour to it, but we protect the creative spirit from our start-up days.
How did it feel, seeing your creations in people’s homes for the first time on a large scale?
The best feeling is that I can sketch something, make it, and someone on the other side of the world can buy it, love it and share a photo.
Were there any designs that did particularly well?
The small details, such as the Buster Bulb and Cross hardware collection. These are almost the foundations of the brand – no one was doing these kind of things at the time of launch and they’re also the most affordable pieces, so an entryway into the brand.
Are there any lessons you learnt in those early days, that you still carry with you now?
We looked at products with a fresh pair of eyes. We reinvented the way they look by starting with a blank page. This is what we try and hold dear for every new project – how can we do this differently to stand out from the crowd?
Lastly, it would be great to know what the future holds for Buster + Punch? Anything we should be looking out for?
We’ve launched our House of Buster + Punch campaign – the first time we’re offering full room detailing kits for kitchens and bathrooms. Talented pop stars, rappers, dancers, and influencers will bring our products to life in short films, music on Spotify, digital discovery, and real-life experiences – the first of which is our new Shoreditch showroom.