Case study: Packing a punch

Massimo Minale began by selling his client a drinks cabinet - one of his own Buster + Punch designs - and ended up designing the whole house

By Sarah Brownlee

November 2013

It all started with a drinks cabinet. Not any old drinks cabinet, though, but Buster + Punch’s Rockstar whisky bar. It was purchased by a real-life rock star who decided he wanted to replicate the best qualities of the bar in his home. And who better to do that than the designer behind the piece?

Massimo Buster Minale launched luxury product brand Buster + Punch in 2012 manufacturing furniture, lighting and accessories, mostly featuring brass, in his London workshop, but he also works on interior design and architecture projects through his Design Lab.

This dream project for a mystery British rock star involved the complete fit-out of a Victorian town house in Spitalfields, East London. The aim was to create a space with ‘permanent attitude that would age beautifully’. ‘Using materials such as brass, heavy metals, layers of leather, silk and solid woods would go some way to ensuring the house would continue to tell stories for many years to come,’ says Minale. The biggest challenge was digging out the basement space and the best bit, apart from a very appeasing client, was the fact that they got to make 90% of the project in the workshop. ‘This made the house feel especially London,’ he adds. ‘Not just through its location but because of its DNA’.

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True to form, Minale created an open-plan kitchen diner with a difference. Fitted seating with a quilted back runs down the wall of the dining area, bathed in natural light from the skylights. A bespoke dining table (by Buster + Punch) with brass details teeters on the edge of a dramatic light well, looking down onto an olive tree in the basement space.

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The kitchen itself features the slickest of units designed by Buster + Punch, hand made in the London workshop. ‘I think there has been a big shift in kitchen trends and people often prefer to have their utensils on show’, says Minale. ‘That’s why we came up with the glass unit and open shelf.’ The hooks the pans hang off are elongated versions of those used for Buster + Punch’s Hooked lighting.

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Highlights of the living room include the all-important Rockstar whisky bar that kicked off the whole project. It was made in a ‘one-off’ wenge finish and perfectly encapsulates the project brief – to create a home with ‘a hand-crafted feel, using British materials with some decadent detailing’. The wings featured are naturally ‘the rock star’s own’.

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The herringbone floor in the living room adds to the overall theme of longevity and character. ‘We wanted to create a space that embodied our client – a well-aged rock star’, says Milano. Buster + Punch’s Hooked 3.0 / mix light hangs from the ceiling while a range of furniture adds character, including a Flynn sofa by, vintage cinema chairs and an Artek coffee table.

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The ‘dark, crafted’ feel that Milano aimed for is perhaps best achieved in the cinema room. Wall panelling gives the space a sophisticated appeal not unlike a gentleman’s club and the outlook onto an olive tree creates a crucial sense of calm. ‘The 100-year-old olive tree offsets the client’s hectic lifestyle and embodies our ‘age beautifully’ mantra’, says Minale.

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It’s unnerving at first to hear that you can actually see inside the bathroom from the kitchen diner, but thankfully the glass turns opaque at the touch of a button, so privacy is ensured when required. The Catalano sanitaryware is simple and chic with brassware from Ideal Standard’s Silver range.

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A hand-made fireplace with sandstone surround is a stunning but subtle feature of the home’s master bedroom. The full-height wardrobes are by Minale + Mann with Buster + Punch brass handles. The walls feature artwork sourced from the Nelly Duff Gallery and the clients’ own prints. Lighting, mirror and Wingback Remix chair all by Buster + Punch.

Photography credit: Richard Gooding

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