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Muster der Renaissance


Reciprocal Design in Italian Renaissance Wood Intarsia: Patterns, Parasites, and Human/More-than-Human Making

Marta Ajmar

Online veröffentlicht:

04 Mar 2024



This article explores how Italian Renaissance intarsia emerged from making practices sensitive to wood as animate material, and from a design correspondence with its environment. It argues that intarsia reconciled different modes: design-drawing, design in wood, and design with wood. These interconnected practices allow us to reconfigure intarsia as a technology created holistically from the correspondence of different human and more-than-human forces, including parasites – such as woodworm and fungi – and elemental factors – such as heat, water and air – all mobilised in active processes of pattern-making. It shows how this “Wood Age” craft is also an ecologically-rooted response to growing concerns about timber availability and forest sustainability. Finally, it proposes for intarsia the concept of reciprocal design, where patterns emerge from continuous correspondence and co-making between human and more-than-human agents.

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