The Hippo on Bellavista Collection’s Logo: A Story on Good Friends, Gifts, and Mascots

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The Hippo on Bellavista Collection’s Logo: A Story on Good Friends, Gifts, and Mascots

When you browse through the pages of Bellavista Collection’s online catalog, located in PRODUCTS section of its website, you are bound to notice that this brand has a special attitude toward hippopotamuses. In other words, Bellavista’s designers love this animal so much that use its depiction pretty often.  You just won’t be able to miss it: a hippo has long become the brand’s mascot.

Small cast metal statuette of a cute hippo serves as a decorative element every now and then. You can see one standing on the metal base of SAN FRANCISCO coffee table; one more is placed on the top of CAROL, a grand-looking floor lamp. BITTA pouf also has a tiny figure of a hippo, attached to a chain.

Furniture parts also can bear outlines of a hippopotamus, laser-cut on metal or stamped on leather. LOVELY, a deluxe shoe cabinet that belongs to the 2020/2021 collection, can boast of both. The bottom parts of its shelves are padded in belting leather with an embossed image of a hippopotamus. In addition, the cabinet’s handles bear an outline of a hippo. In the company’s catalog, these handles are named MAN-14.

One more handle with a hippo is MAN-05.  You can see these handles on the drawer units of HAMILTON sideboard.

And, of course, it’s impossible to ignore an item, decorated with a bloat of hippopotamuses. It is IPPO TRAY, the cast brass tray for candles that looks more like a sculpture than a utilitarian piece. The decoration depicts hippos wallowing in the shallow pond and walking ashore. This tray was a real success at Salone del Mobile in 2019.

And that’s not to mention the lifelike cast brass figure of this animal named IPPO, which is Bellavista’s long-standing bestseller. This lovely statuette is available in four finishes: antique bronze, black patina, antique gold leaf and antique silver leaf. It means that there are four differently-looking brass hippos, and many customers buy them all. Being relatively small – only 18 x 8 centimeters (7.1 x 3.1 inches) and 8 centimeters high – IPPO the hippopotamus accompanies Attilio Zanni, Bellavista’s co-founder and the chief designer, in his trips all over the world.

Decades-Old Fondness

Being so keen on hippos might seem somehow strange. Bellavista brand is purely Italian; luxury furniture pieces it produces come from the company’s own workshops, located in Italy – in the Brescia province, not far from Milan, to be precise. What can it have to do with an animal that lives only in sub-Saharan Africa? Why hippopotamus? Why not pick some European animal as a mascot?

Well, it’s an interesting story, which goes virtually decades back. It started long before Bellavista Collection got a name of its own, after sprouting from its parent company Casa Zeta. The future brand’s founders, Attilio and Fabrizio Zanni, carried out numerous design projects all over the world. No wonder they made good friends with talented designers and architects from many countries.

The very first project of Casa Zeta was the Sheraton Centro Histórico hotel, located in Alameda Central – a public urban park in downtown Mexico City. Casa Zeta designed and manufactured nearly all the furniture, lighting fixtures, and other pieces you can see in the rooms and public areas of this fashionable hotel. Later, there were a lot of interesting references all over the world.

High quality of all materials, excellent craftsmanship and impeccably tasteful design by Attilio Zanni greatly contributed to success of these projects.

The Gift that Became a Mascot

Travel oversea, in particular to America, and meet talented architects was crucial for the success of Casa Zeta. Every work became an interesting occasion to share their ideas and, why not, learn about each other’s life and habits.

One day, while travelling in Africa, one of Casa Zeta’s client and good friend bought two lovely wooden sculptures depicting a hippopotamus and a rhinoceros.

African craftsmen masterfully carve sculptures of people and animals by hand out of a variety of woods. In fact, such figures are among the most popular souvenirs people bring from Africa.

After returning from his journey, presented these figures to Attilio and Fabrizio Zanni. Zanni brothers liked these sculptures so much that decided to make similar ones of cast brass. So, the wooden souvenirs from Africa became templates for two brass sculptures. You can see both in Bellavista’s catalog under the names IPPO and RHINO.

Both statuettes immediately became bestsellers, but it was IPPO that won the hearts of both Zanni brothers and Bellavista’s customers. With the course of time, this pretty hippopotamus became Bellavista’s mascot and now is depicted on the brand’s logotype.

Now, after many years, Zanni brothers can well say that a hippo turned out to be a lucky mascot. What if the brand has been flourishing partly thanks to that cute wooden hippopotamus, a friendly gift, brought from Africa long ago?

Venezuela ProjectBrescia