Design 101 – The Golden Ratio

Written By Guest Blogger: Kayla Harvey

1 2

Prime the Flux Capacitor, and secure your time-travel helmets for this installment of Design 101.  We will be reaching back, way back, to discover the origins of modern design through the birth of geometry and the Arabic numerical system.  If all that does not sound like enough fun for you, there are even algebraic formulas you can try out for yourself!  So, hold on tight, here we go!

Cartoon_Euclid

Our first stop on this trip is ancient Alexandria around 300 BCE.  There the “Father of Geometry”, Euclid, is writing what will become one of the most influential works of mathematics the world has ever seen.  Amongst the many significant geometric observations Euclid records the Golden Ratio.   Simply put this means, a+b is to a as a is to b.

golden-ratio-286x300

Da Vinci Vitruvian Man

Fast forward several hundred years to the middle ages and a man who became known as Fibonacci is exploring the Arabic Numeral system and its advantages compared to the then standard Roman Numeral system.  Fibonacci is credited with a series of numbers, and a subsequent formula, for determining a golden ratio.  Numbers in the Fibonacci Sequence work on a recurrence relation.  This means that it can be infinitely scaled larger or smaller.

mona-lisa-golden ratio

The Golden Ratio via HongKiat

Fheeew!  That was getting heavy!  What do all these formulas and complicated mathematical lingo have to do with modern design?  If it feels abstract and irrelevant, know for sure it isn’t.  These are simply attempts to explain why we find certain things to be beautiful.  Why across cultures and centuries humans have gravitated toward specific proportions in design.  It might be because these ratios are an expression of our own, as seen in Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, or possibly because the Golden Ratio is everywhere in nature.

Golden_Ratio_In_Nature

Golden Ratio In Nature

Regardless of its origins, the Golden Ratio is one element of design that is here to stay.  Interior Designers constantly find this principal at work.  The Golden Ratio is the reason why rectangular rooms feel the most comfortable, and typically have the best furniture placement options.  It is not just a number or a mathematical concept, it is just as much an intuitive feeling that you get when entering a space.   If things feel pinched, or out of balance, the Golden Ratio might be the answer.  So next time you see an ultra modern house, or a blooming flower, remember the Golden Ratio and see if you cant find this design concept at work.

Golden_Ratio_In_Modern_Design

Golden Ratio In Modern Design

Golden_Ratio_FP_Perspective

Talk About It

*