Golden Ratio


A ratio within the elements of a form, such as height to width, approximating 0.618. id="footnote101a"> class="nounder totri-footnote" href="">1

The golden ratio is the ratio between two segments such that the smaller (bc) segment is to the larger segment (ab) as the larger segment (ab) is to the sum of the two segments (ac), or bc/ab = ab/ac = 0.618. id="footnote102a"> class="nounder totri-footnote" href="">2

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The golden ratio is found throughout nature, art, and architecture. Pinecones, seashells, and the human body all exhibit the golden ratio. Piet Mondrian and Leonardo da Vinci commonly incorporated the golden ratio into their paintings. Stradivari utilized the golden ratio in the construction of his violins. The Parthenon, the Great Pyramid of Giza, Stonehenge, and the Chartres Cathedral all exhibit the golden ratio.

While many manifestations of the golden ratio in early art and architecture were likely caused by processes not involving knowledge of the golden ratio, it may be that these manifestations result from a more fundamental, subconscious preference for the aesthetic resulting from the ratio. A substantial body of research comparing individual preferences for rectangles of various proportions supports a preference based on the golden ratio. However, these findings have been challenged on the theory that preferences for the ratio in past experiments resulted from experimenter bias, methodological flaws, or other external factors. id="footnote103a"> class="nounder totri-footnote" href="">3

Whether the golden ratio taps into some inherent aesthetic preference or is simply an early design technique turned tradition, there is no question as to its past and continued influence on design. Consider the golden ratio when it is not at the expense of other design objectives. Geometries of a design should not be contrived to create golden ratios, but golden ratios should be explored when other aspects of the design are not compromised. id="footnote104a"> class="nounder totri-footnote" href="">4

See also Aesthetic-Usability Effect, Form Follows Function, Rule of Thirds, and Waist-to-Hip Ratio.

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In each example, the ratio between the blue and red segments approximates the golden ratio. Note how the ratio corresponds with a significant feature or alteration of the form. Examples are the Parthenon, Stradivarius Violin, Notre-Dame Cathedral, Nautilus Shell, Eames LCW Chair, Apple iPod MP3 Player, and da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man.