A room of the mind: from the studiolo to the metaphysical room.
Abstract: The aim of this article is to propose an approach to the “space of the mind” through the analysis of successive spaces built with scenographical techniques that can be found in some domestic rooms. Two rooms, conceived and built in Italy, separated from each other by half a millennium, were taken as a case study. These are the studiolo of Federico da Montefeltro and the Stanza Metafísica of Piero Fornasetti. The starting point is the studiolo, a type of private room that has its origins in the Renaissance, and while it has been blurred since then, its specific qualities has been applied to other spaces throughout history. The studiolo was the most intimate room in the house, dedicated to intellectual activity, and it was a representation of the individual. It was a space with the ability to translate the owner into another world—its authentic inner world—through the decoration and objects it contained. Usually, the studioli are lined with wood because of their ability to achieve a sheltered interior. At the beginning of the 15th century, carpenters and artisans developed a way of working this paneling that clad rooms using the intarsia technique. This novel technique, together with the rise and development of the laws of perspective, conquered wooden flat surfaces by turning them into windows to other imaginary worlds that looked out onto the universe of the mind, allowing the penetration of a new fictitious space. One of the most paradigmatic cases of the time, which combines all these qualities, is the pair of studioli commissioned by Federico da Montefeltro in the ducal palaces in Urbino (1473–1476) and Gubbio (1479–1482), made up of embedded wood panels that display an extraordinary collection of objects, and interior and exterior visions that completely transform the original space. Almost five hundred years after the completion of Gubbio’s studiolo, between 1955 and 1958, Piero Fornasetti created the Stanza Metafísica. This is a room capable of adapting to any space, able to grow and shrink, a scenography dedicated to meditation. The 32 wooden panels that form it, treated using a contemporary technique, take us to the same place of the mind, which is completely different from the Gubbio one. Full cabinets are now simply architecture without function, devoid of objects and references: black lines and pure geometry on a white background. The Fornasetti stanza gathers many of the qualities of the Renaissance studiolo and appropriates them, adapting it to the new techniques and conception of space. In conclusion, both examples reveal the existence of both a physical room and another metaphysical room—i.e., a fictitious space contained within a real space, built through technique and perspective. These are scenographies capable of being moved and adapted to disguise any room, transforming it into a space that is inhabited by the mind for an intimate, individual intellectual activity.
- ARQUITECTURA