Marcello Minale, founder of an evolving design dynasty - An interview with his three sons



Recently in September 2016, Marcello (March) Minale, Manlio Punch Minale and Massimo Buster Minale, all three sons of legendary designer Marcello Minale Snr. were interviewed by Sue Evans for the magazine title called ITS (… London Style). The magazine is currently on sale in WHSmith and other small independent ‘designer’ bookstores. 


For those that do not buy magazines you can read the full article here.




Marcello Minale

Founder of an evolving design dynasty


Sue Evans examines the legacy of renowned designer Marcello Minale and talks to his sons about how they develop successful careers in the creative industries, inspired by but not simply emulating their father.


By any measure Marcello Minale was a giant of the design world and an exceptional man. He was in the vanguard of talented designers in London during the 1960s who defined what a modern design firm should be. An Italian working in London, Marcello teamed up with ad agency colleague Brian Tattersfield to form Minale Tattersfield & Partners in 1964. The pair quickly established themselves as the most innovative and exciting designers on the creative scene.


Marcello was president of the Designers and Art Directors Association of London (D&AD) in 1981. Minale Tattersfield has hundreds of international design accolades to its credit and is among the winners of the highest number of awards in D&AD’s 50-year history, including the D&AD President’s Award in 1987 in recognition of Marcello and Brian’s contribution to British design. The consultancy is also a recipient of a Gold Award from the Art Directors Club of New York.


Minale Tattersfield has featured in international design exhibitions in London, Milan, Tokyo and Mexico City. Their legacy attracts contemporary audiences, with Minale Tattersfield’s work exhibited in a major design retrospective, British Design 1948 – 2012: Innovation in the Modern Age, at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.


An accomplished sportsman, Marcello had a lifelong love of rowing and won a silver medal for Italy at the 1956 European Championships (now the World Championships). In later years he coached at Tideway Scullers School in London where he was President of the club.



Marcello Minale and Auste Kuzmickaite

Marcello (March) Minale and Auste Kuzmickaite resembling the original photo of Brain Tattersfield standing and Marcello Minale Snr sitting on one of his chairs he designed in 1976.


Super Mario Bros.

Marcello Mario Minale is the eldest of the three Minale brothers. Born in London, he attended school in Rome where he lived with his Scandinavian mother, before returning to England to study graphic design. Along with his brothers Marcello is part owner of Minale Tattersfield, a successful network of branding and design offices in London, Paris, Brussels, Sydney and Moscow. He is also a partner in various creative start-ups, collaborating with young, talented, independent designers, photographers, animators, filmmakers and disruptors. Marcello divides his time between Minale Tattersfield’s creative studio near Borough Market and the group’s head office on Cannon Street in the City of London. His style is eclectic, inclusive and uncompromising, and he believes curiosity and collaboration are key for the future of design.


Disrupt if necessary

Design is always changing but is still about clarity of thinking and execution. Right now the trend is for different influences and styles, contrasting themes but still with a sense of harmony. I’m collaborating with some fantastic people, creating our own projects that fit with our interests and lifestyles. Together we are developing experiential design that works across all media platforms, enhancing creativity within the design process instead of being driven by short-term targets. Today what we do must be achievable, sustainable and believable. We never compromise or under deliver on our projects. Who you are as a business or creative entity, and who you are surrounded by, suggests a certain mentality and attitude. We have to question things, challenge the norm, disrupt if necessary, and we do that because we care and love what we do.



Minale and Kuzmickaite mean business


Real men wear pink

For example, we designed the London 2012 Olympics signage and we wanted it to really stand out, so we went for pink. For the presentation, I decided to be a bit daring to make the point, and wore a bright pink suit. At the end of the meeting, the room went quiet and I remember the head of the committee saying with a friendly smile, “Mr. Minale, real men wear pink!” That was such a great moment. My dad showed all his three sons that there are lots of different styles and stuff, but there is only one design… good design, which comes from working with good people.


From fashion to motorbikes

Since 1996 I have lived in Hackney. The place inspires me by its diversity and different take on life. In 1997 I started a fashion label with my wife. I met her at her end of year show at the Royal College of Art where she had studied for a Masters in fashion design, and we opened a shop together on Columbia Road. She was designing the clothes and I was developing the fashion brand. I was also rediscovering my interest in motorbikes, a love passed down to my brother Massimo and me from our dad. I remember as a child in the 1970s sitting on his yellow Norton 750 Commando. After that dad would rock up with a new Ducati or Harley-Davidson Fat Boy and I knew one day I would have my own. It's great to share this passion with my brother, who is doing some great custom bikes for Buster + Punch, and which I sometimes get to ride. When in 2000 my father suddenly and tragically passed away, I felt a duty as his eldest son to jump into his boots (massive boots, now that I think back) and run the family business. The pressure was on from the go!


Everything is lighter

I never wanted to get gobbled up running a corporate-style business. After leading Minale Tattersfield for over ten years and speaking with my brothers, with whom I am very close, I decided at the time of the company’s 50th anniversary in 2014 that some things would change. I even went so far as to have the company’s scribble logo tattooed onto my arm. It was me saying, time to reinvent and rediscover and focus on what counts. For the first time in years everything feels a lot lighter. We are having a great time doing great design, and it’s a real joy. Really there isn’t much more than that, other than all three brothers owe a lot to dad, because we know what we want…and are doing it.



Massimo Buster Minale, founder of Buster and Punch.


OK, Buster

Massimo Buster Minale is founder of Buster + Punch, an interiors product design label, which he runs from showrooms in London and Stockholm. He is also partner of interior design practice Minale and Mann. After leaving school in London where he was born, he studied architecture at Cambridge University. Massimo lives in Sweden with his wife and son, and is the younger of Marcello Minale’s three sons.


Live with conviction

With Buster + Punch we’re trying to shake up a sleeping industry, interior hardware and lighting, which is historically quite boring unlike fashion or music. We’re trying to inject some of that fun into it. I fell out of love with architecture because it’s such a slow process, and have gone onto quicker and quicker stuff. I now make interior products, and if people like them, they buy them. I always knew I would be working for myself, a hangover from my dad I guess, the idea of making your own luck and not having someone tell you what to do. I’ve always been quite fearless about that.


Architectural practice

I studied architecture and am classically educated in that regard. I was good at art at school and have always loved fine art. I spent three years at Cambridge, followed by a year in industry at Foster & Partners. It took seven years to qualify, including further study at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London and UCL. After working for large architectural firms, I started Minale and Mann designing smaller interior jobs around London. One of my best friends, Sebastian Mann runs it. 



Motorbikes, especially custom motorbikes, have always been a real love of mine. By day I would be doing architecture, and that was my day job, and by night I would be tinkering on motorbikes, and that I was really enjoying. Buster + Punch is somewhere in between custom motorbikes and architecture. It started in a garage in east London where we were making things that we loved, motorcycles, whisky bars and then elegant, crafted products for interiors.


Home life

Buster is my middle name and Punch is my brother Manlio’s. They have an English eccentric feel compared to our first names, and my eldest brother Marcello Mario’s name, which are more traditionally Italian. Those middle names have served us well. Growing up, we always had design around us, modern furniture in our house, and everything had a design thread to it. Part of me doing what I’m doing now probably sunk into me during childhood and has never left. My dad designed furniture so it makes perfect sense that I’m making furniture and lighting now.



Manlio Punch Minale (Brand strategist at Woff Olins).


Punch it up

Manlio Punch Minale is strategy director at international brand consultants Wolff Olins and also commercial director of Curve, the agency’s online learning platform. Having a postgraduate degree in International Management, Manlio enjoys a commercial challenge and has a gimlet eye for business. He lives in west London, where he was born and went to school.


Thinking strategically

I come from a branded advisory perspective, leading a team to help businesses transform themselves. It’s a mix of business and design, a creative version of business consultancy, and I have a strategy role plus a commercial role setting up new offers. Digital tools are an important part of that as we focus on user experience and business culture to activate change across very large organisations.


Anything but design

I was interested in sciences at school and studied biochemistry at Durham University. My original dream was to become a scientist but I was drawn to business so did an MBA at King’s College London, followed by an internship at a management consultancy. I have been here at Wolff Olins about twelve years and am glad I’m in this industry, as I could have easily gone into banking or consultancy. It’s funny how the three of us are in design now. You can’t escape.


Entrepreneurial bug

We’ve all caught that entrepreneurial bug, and that definitely came from my dad, that kind of toughness. We always want to change things, start something new, change the world in little areas, and my interest is helping to build businesses. I started Curve for Wolff Olins and I have recently helped set up a new technology company in property, called Bricklane, which will launch next year. My dad started Minale Tattersfield when he was 23, quite young to take on responsibility for employing people and pushing your own point of view. He was always into self-promotion, and was charismatic and resilient enough to make it work.


Design legacy

Wally Olins and Michael Wolff were part of that generation in the 1960s, like my father, who started the design industry in that era. Wally developed the business in a more strategic way, moving from corporate identity to brand. Now brand is more about experience than design. The design world has changed dramatically, becoming more commoditised with a lot more design companies out there. You have to differentiate yourself. You can specialise in a specific sector or become strategic advisers like we are here at Wolff Olins. Another idea worth exploring is working like a brand franchise company rather than a traditional design agency. 


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