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The Golden Ratio For Design

Proportions borrowed from nature

They always say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There are numerous amounts of social media accounts, websites, articles, and conversations about what makes a good design with each person giving a different perspective.

Somehow, that’s the beauty of design, isn’t it? Everyone can interpret it differently.

For sure you cannot satisfy everyone when it comes to design but there is a mathematical way that can help work towards a better design experience each time. That is called the Golden Ratio.

The Golden Ratio is a mathematical ratio that you can find in so many areas of your life. Architecture, nature, music, painting, and more! When you apply it to your designs, it definitely creates a pleasing aesthetic for your eye.

A shot looking up at a spiral staircase reminiscent of the golden ratio

What is the Golden Ratio?

You may hear other names for it such as: Golden Section, Golden Mean, Divine Proportion, or the Greek letter Phi, the Golden Ratio is a special number that approximately equals 1.618. The ratio itself comes from the Fibonacci sequence, which is a naturally occurring sequence of numbers that can be found everywhere, from the Great Pyramid at Giza, to the iconic seashell that likely graced the cover of your school math textbook.

The Fibonacci sequence is the sum of the two numbers before it. It goes like this: 0, 1,1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, and so on, to infinity. 

How does this relate to design? Its formula can help you when creating shapes, logos, layouts, and more. However, we will spare you the math.

Why Does the Golden Ratio Matter in Design?

The Fibonacci sequence is the sum of the two numbers before it. It goes like this: 0, 1,1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, and so on, to infinity. 

How does this relate to design? Its formula can help you when creating shapes, logos, layouts, and more. However, we will spare you the math.

What the golden ratio does is give you clues into areas where the user is likely to focus and look based on nature. It helps create balance and scale, even when not intentionally.

The Golden Ratio in Furniture

Whether it’s a design method passed on from craftsman to an intern or just the sense of balance that humans possess, without such a framework to follow it is perfectly possible to build something that is structurally sound and functionally adequate but not pleasing to the senses. A piece of furniture that has no care for proven design may look clumsy, unbalanced, or awkward.

A word of caution before applying the golden ratio as a design framework: form must follow function. Even the best-proportioned piece of furniture can be a failure if it does not function because it is too small or too large or unable to be used comfortably. In fact, most furniture designs require that you start with some given dimensions: A table must be a certain height or a bookcase may require a fixed number of shelves. 

But almost certainly you will be left with many other decisions regarding dimensions to which you can apply this proportion. It will be worth the effort to see whether the golden ratio might work for these other elements. Deciding on dimensions by eye alone is not the best way for achieving a well-balanced, nicely proportioned piece.

Designing something with perfect proportions is nearly impossible in the real world. Almost every piece of furniture will need to accommodate constraints imposed by details of function or other reasons. Even if you are close to perfect proportions, the eye is inclined to accommodate slight imperfections and fill in the gaps. Don’t think that everything has to fit the formula exactly.

Conclution

So here is your basic guide to understanding and using the golden ratio: It’s all around you whether you think about it or not. So why not consider how the golden ratio can work in your own home with one of our own pieces at Zap Idea?

A word of caution before applying the golden ratio as a design framework: form must follow function. Even the best-proportioned piece of furniture can be a failure if it does not function because it is too small or too large or unable to be used comfortably. In fact, most furniture designs require that you start with some given dimensions: A table must be a certain height or a bookcase may require a fixed number of shelves. 

But almost certainly you will be left with many other decisions regarding dimensions to which you can apply this proportion. It will be worth the effort to see whether the golden ratio might work for these other elements. Deciding on dimensions by eye alone is not the best way for achieving a well-balanced, nicely proportioned piece.

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