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Article: Golden Mean or Ratio

Golden Mean or Ratio

Golden Mean or Ratio

Can a designer ever stop designing?


While at Sandy Hook beach on the Jersey shore I was abruptly brought back to the reality of my design past and my relationship with the “Golden Mean.” How? By finding a shell.

I had the incredible opportunity to work in the Donghia Furniture and Textiles Design Studio for several years with the design legend John Hutton. John was relentless in our practice of always using the “Golden Mean” or “Ratio” in the basis of our designs. Which I still incorporate in my Otium designs.

Although the "Golden Mean" is a complicated concept, I will try to simplify it to a basic outline.

The "Gold Mean" is an “Irrational mathematical constant,” or a mysteriously emotional aesthetically pleasing proportion that has kept philosophers, artists, architects, designs and mathematicians captivated for centuries. The "Golden Mean" exists perfectly in nature as well as human produced designs, the Pyramids, Taj Mahal, Parthenon, to name only a few.

In nature there is an endless representation but, the two that stand out in my mind are the Shell (think beach) and the seed formation in a Sunflower. The "Golden Mean" also apears naturally in viruses, leaf patterns, human anatomy (as illustrated by Leonardo da Vinci), DNA, cells, you get the idea.

Mathematically the “Golden Mean,” is the SUM of the two proceeding numbers. 1 plus 2 equals 3; 2 plus 3 equals 5; 3 plus 5 equals 8; 5 plus 8 equals 13; and so on.


Construction of a golden rectangle:

1. Construct a unit square (red).

2. Draw a line from the midpoint of one side to an opposite corner.

3. Use that line as the radius to draw an arc that defines the long dimension of the rectangle.

Instructions by. Joel Holdsworth


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