Behind the Brand: Product Designers Talk with KBB

Published: June 10, 2024

Welcome to the June edition of Behind the Brand, where KBB seeks to illuminate – somewhat! – the creative process from the perspective of top product designers in the kitchen and bath fields. Being able to look at everyday objects in a radically different way is the [un]common denominator of these talented individuals.

This month, we hear from:

Gergely Agoston, head of marketing and communication, Agape
Massimo Minale, founder & creative director, Buster + Punch
Amy Bartlett, creative director, KAST

As a product designer, my greatest responsibility is…

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Agoston: I’m not a designer. Or rather, I am, but I’m not working as such in the context of Agape. If anything, I design processes and interactions. My aim is to be seamless and as simple as possible, yet still surprisingly interesting. This combination is really hard to achieve, but when it happens, it’s very satisfying.

Minale: These days, it’s not to be wasteful. The pieces I design have to be relevant within the framework of our brand and our following. I also don’t want to be using our limited resources in ways that don’t allow them to be adaptable to different scenarios. For example, our switches and dimmers are modular so you can change functionality of your style in years to come without buying totally new units.

Bartlett: Ensuring that each product delights and inspires our customers and also meets the highest standards of quality and craftsmanship. We strive to create designs that are innovative and enhance everyday living by blending functionality with artistic expression.

agape products

Photo credit: Agape

One of my creative touchstones is…

Agoston: Questioning conventions and the willingness to explore every possibility, no matter how strange they might appear at first sight. Oh, and coherence. I think the coherence of any project is of utmost importance. Unwanted contradictions make me shiver. Everything, every component, every material, has its own proper way of being used. I think we, and the designers that work with us, are doing quite a good job in this area here at Agape.

Minale: Metal and the process used to manipulate it. Our brand is built on metal, and the passions in my life have always had a link to this material. It’s not easy to work within a refined way and you have to take care and time to bring it to life. But when everything aligns and you’re working with the best metal crafters in the industry, there’s a magic to it.

Bartlett: The interplay of form, color and pattern. Drawing from an eclectic array of influences spanning textiles, ceramics, architecture and 20th-century art and design movements, I am driven by a deep fascination with materials and making processes. These elements are woven together to create unique designs with depth, character and tactility.

An industry trend that I’m watching is…

Agoston: To be honest, I don’t care too much. Trends tend to be very superficial today. They oscillate more and more wildly and over time they dissolve into a blur of noise. Communication is simply too fast in this age of immediacy. We, at Agape, have always done our things regardless of trends. This is also due to our location in the heart of the Mincio National Park, where we work according to the rhythms of the countryside. Interestingly, this approach has always led to the development of powerfully iconic long-sellers. I guess the principles of good design never go out of fashion.

On a more macroscopic scale, developments in AI and the (perhaps consequent) need for increasingly material objects are surely on my watchlist. Then there is the continuous evolution of the domestic landscape’s relationship with the outdoors.

Minale: I don’t really keep any eye on trends. Trends are short-lived by definition and that’s part of the problem with the design industry and its impact on our world. I don’t want myself as a designer, or our brand, to be associated with trends in our physical world. The goal should be timeless relevance.

Bartlett: The growing demand for personalised and bespoke designs. Consumers increasingly seek products that reflect their unique tastes and lifestyles, and this trend is driving innovation in customisation and modular design within the industry.

switch plate buster punch

Photo credit: Buster + Punch

The best part of my job is…

Agoston: Coming up with a solution to a problem that I would have never expected to find when starting to work on it in the first place. The projects that contribute to their own development are the most fun ones: I just lay back and enjoy the process, the flow. Ending up in unexpected places is beautifully rewarding.

Minale: Seeing the progression of Buster + Punch as a label is rewarding. Last year was our tenth anniversary, which gave us a chance to look back at what we’ve done and remind ourselves of the brand and product attributes that resonate with our followers. We’re still a very independent label, with our own way of doing things and to keep those values while being at the scale we’re at is rare. We can only do Buster + Punch as Buster + Punch.

Bartlett: Seeing our designs come to life in customers’ homes. The joy of transforming a concept into a tangible, beautiful product that resonates with our customers is incredibly fulfilling.

concrete and terrazzo sinks by last

Photo credit: KAST

If I had a week off from the studio, I would…

Agoston: Finish working on my old BMW. Having a clear beginning and end, that kind of manual, mechanical work allows for deep focus and yields tangible results with a deeply satisfying sense of accomplishment. The simple “it did not work, now it works” kind of thing. That must be the reason why cars are such a thing around here. That and maybe the fact that together with bathtubs, cars are some of the very few objects you can actually get into.

Minale: Sleep a bit. Hang out with the family. Eat some good food. I wouldn’t do anything super-luxe or flamboyant, but I would invest that time back into the things I hold dear.

Bartlett: Read, travel or immerse myself in nature. I find that stepping away from the everyday routine and giving myself some headspace enhances my creativity and sparks new ideas for future projects.

Headshot photo credits: Agape: Agape; Buster + Punch: Buster + Punch; KAST: KAST

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