Brionvega showcased the futuristic allure and forward-thinking design of Mario Bellini’s Totem at this year’s Salone del Mobile, unveiling a new colour variant – Totem Black. This stunning addition perfectly captures the essence of geometric precision and the love for primary, elemental forms that define this iconic and sophisticated Hi-Fi sound system.

With Totem, I wanted to create a design that effortlessly fits into a domestic setting, rather than catering specifically to individual enthusiasts or passionate experimenters.

Mario Bellini on Totem

Join us as we delve deeper into the world of contemporary design, exploring the birth of this avant-garde masterpiece and Mario Bellini’s reflections on consumer technology. In an era where hi-fi equipment and television sets have become commonplace in our homes, Totem stands tall, commanding attention amidst the familiar.

The Totem between “Kubrick 2001: A Space Odyssey” and the 1972 MOMA Exhibit “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape” – Design to Worship

Stanley Kubrick’s cinematic masterpiece, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” presents us with a scene that has become deeply ingrained in our collective consciousness. In this iconic moment, a mysterious, large black monolith appears before a group of hominids in Africa, serving as a catalyst for their evolution. As they touch and interact with this monolith, they instinctively learn to use objects as tools and weapons.

It is nearly impossible not to draw parallels between Kubrick’s monolith and Bellini’s own masterpiece, the Totem. Created in 1971, Totem represents Bellini’s exploration of form and function, culminating in a refined aesthetic. Much like the monolith, Bellini’s Totem exudes a sense of reverence and veneration. Its hermetic and precise lines convey a visual certainty while concealing a sophisticated hi-fi sound system within its cubic shell. It is an object of legendary stature, where simplicity harmoniously aligns with its highly advanced content. Totem emerges as an unexpected and sublime order, inviting us to contemplate and listen.

In 1972, Bellini’s quest to redefine domestic spaces through furniture and design led him to participate in a major exhibition organized by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. The exhibition, “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape,” reimagined the way we live, highlighting Brionvega’s significant contribution. Several Brionvega objects, including the Totem, were selected for their artistic and technical merits, and their potential for more flexible patterns of use and arrangement. This celebration further solidified Italy’s dominance in the world of design.

Bellini’s understanding of objects within the evolving domestic landscape became more apparent during this exhibition. With the radio being central to family life, he recognized the power of reimagining the furniture that housed such devices as an opportunity to reshape the entire home. The radio, and later the television, had become focal points of family unity and togetherness. The efforts of designers like Bellini in their formal research aimed to mirror the social changes occurring within families.

In many ways, Bellini conjured a little magic with Totem. By reducing the radio cabinet, and subsequently the stereo system as a whole, to its most basic and archaic form – the cube – he brought the ancient back into the every day, infused with modernity. The Totem’s material characteristics diverged from traditional interiors, becoming a rock-like presence that inevitably alters the flow of the living space.


Today, Totem lives on, having been welcomed into esteemed museums like MoMA and the São Paulo Museum of Modern Art, among many others. Bellini’s legendary stereo cube system achieves unparalleled precision and acoustic excellence, thanks to the meticulous craftsmanship of sound professionals involved throughout its production. From shell manufacturing to the integration of top-quality electronic components and high-fidelity speakers, every detail of Bellini’s Totem is meticulously crafted to deliver an unmatched listening experience.

When closed, Totem’s exterior presents itself as a timeless and eternal cube, an iconic symbol of geometric perfection. When opened, its modern, state-of-the-art technological heart is unveiled, a testament to Bellini’s commitment to merging form and function seamlessly.

Totem stands as a remarkable testament to the marriage of design and technology. It not only pays homage to the past but also guides us to envision the possibilities of the future.