The Golden Ratio is a special, irrational number that is roughly equal to 1.618. Its Greek symbol is φ or phi. This seemingly magical ratio can be found everywhere, such as in nature, architecture, science, geometry as well as in art and design.
The average person thinks that science and the Arts have not a thing in common. That the beautiful and the logical are several galaxies apart. Let’s see how a beautiful number discovered centuries ago – yet still used today – bridged that gap.
Therefore, to understand The Golden Ratio, we’ll have to look at another very famous set of numbers: The Fibonacci sequence. Accidentally discovered by Leonardo Fibonacci in 1202 B.C. while studying rabbits and their mating habits and it is widely considered one of the most fascinating findings in mathematics – one that would have applications in many fields and for hundreds of years to come.
The Fibonacci sequence goes as such: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34 ad infinitum. It’s simple; each number is the sum of the two numbers that come right before it. maybe it seems like a silly homework exercise for elementary kids, but it is so much more than that. The Fibonacci sequences and its followers appear to be “a built-in numbering system to the cosmos”.
“Geometry has two great treasures: one is the theorem of Pythagoras and the other, the division of a line into extreme and mean ratio. The first we may compare to a measure of gold; the second we may name a precious jewel.”
— Johannes Kepler [1571-1630]
Watch this 60 second video to better understand these concepts.
Many artists and architects swear by these numbers, saying that it creates the most pleasing ratio to the eye. Some go as far as calling it The Divine Proportion. Using the Fibonacci sequence and The Golden Ratio, one can easily find The Golden Rectangle and The Golden Spiral. These are merely visual representations of the number phi.
Visionary Leonardo Da Vinci famously used the Golden Ratio in his paintings to create a sense of harmony and balance. Da Vinci reportedly used an instrument called the Golden Mean Caliper to accurately make these measurements. This device behaves like a compass where the ratio of the distance between a and b is always the Golden Mean.
Most famously, Da Vinci’s application of the Golden Mean can be found in “La Joconde” which is now found in The Louvre. It is no accident that Mona Lisa’s face and body proportions abide by this divine proportion.
Another famous example is Da Vinci’s studies of the male physiognomy.
Amazingly, the Fibonacci spiral and the Golden Ratio can be found practically anywhere one wishes to find it. Whether observing the unimaginably small through the microscope or the inconceivably large through a telescope, an attentive eye can find these beautiful patterns repeating themselves as if by magic.
Why does this pattern keep on mysteriously resurfacing? It appears that Mother Nature has found this to be the most efficient and logical way to express herself. It has also proven to create balanced and beautiful structures when applied in design, creating a natural and well-balanced result. Scientists and artists alike believe it to be embedded in the blueprint of the Universe.
Interestingly, these mathematical ratios have implications in how we see the world around us and how we unconsciously judge beauty. Although there’s nothing wrong with following your ‘gut feeling’ when creating composition, using these numbers creates a logical, objective and more reliable framework to work with. The Phi Matrix, the Golden Ratio and Design Analysis Software, is a useful design tool that will study any uploaded image with respect to the Golden Ratio. This software helps you apply this beautiful and harmonious composition in your own designs.
By marrying The Divine Proportion and design, you will be speaking a visual language that your brain is familiar with. We may take it for granted but we are hard-wired to appreciate things that follow these dimensions. Taking advantage of that knowledge allows you to create richer, more satisfying compositions.
Finally, here are a few more examples of how these numbers apply to your face, fingers and even your fingerprints. The Fibonacci sequence, the Golden Ratio and the Divine Proportions make up who you are!