Design Concept - Golden Mean And Golden Rectangle

Understanding design concepts such as the Golden Mean regarding proportion - the ideal relationship of things to themselves - will help you not only be better prepared to create beauty around you but it will enhance your enjoyment of that beauty.

It is noteworthy that since Renaissance times, the concept of the Golden Mean and the Golden Rectangle have been used in the undertaking of art and architecture. Not just artists and architects have incorporated the Golden Mean, but mathematicians (and more recently, readers of "The Da Vinci Code,) have been fascinated by mathematical proportions and the Golden Mean. It's the basis of much of the artwork of Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo.

Today for architects and designers, the Golden Mean has become a standard proportion used:
  • in facades of buildings,

  • in first story to second story proportion,

  • in the dimensions of paintings and picture frames,

  • in planning a room or elevating a wall and the sizes of the windows or the spaces between or above or below.

  • Definition of Golden Mean: is a formula for dividing a line at between 2/3 and 1/2 its length. This formula is believed to result in the segments being satisfactory proportions, believed to be pleasing to the human being.

    Definition Of The Golden Rectangle: is any rectangle in which the ratio of the short side to the long side is 3 to 5 or of course any extensions of this ratio such as 4 x 6, 6 x 9, etc.

    Example of Golden Rectangle in an area rug, a typical interior decor item:

    This Ocean Corsaro area rug from Gumps San Francisco measures 4' x 6', it is an example of the golden rectangle.

    Example of Golden Rectangle in a significant historical architecture - the Parthenon.

    The Greeks built the Parthenon so that its width is perfect in relation to its height, as in the golden rectangle.

    Determining the Golden Rectangle: Let's say you are considering adding on a room addition and your available area is 18' in width and plenty of land, what should be the length of your room? Divide the 18' by 2 and arrive at 9'. Add the 9' to the 18' and you have 27'. Therefore the dimensions of your new room should be 18' x 27'.

    You can create the ideal proportion whether you base the measurement on the length or the width. For example, suppose the length of the room were 18'. What would be the ideal width? It would be 12', because when you divide 18 by 1.5, it becomes 12; therefore the ideal dimensions would be 12' x 18'.

    When you know good proportion, you can see why an area rug is so satisfying and why a long hall gives you claustrophobia.

    Interior designers have ways to correct flawed proportions in many instances. The hallway shown in the above photograph has been architecturally corrected by the beautiful archways. If you have a long narrow hallway, a less expensive idea is to place a mirror at the end of the hall to bring in light and visually widen the space. You can either hang a traditional mirror in a frame or mirror the whole wall from cornice to baseboard.

    When you learn how to see ideal proportions, you feel great satisfaction. You can use your knowledge of proportion in every aspect of your life. Although there is a scientific standard for ideal proportions, your eye can be trained to see and envision proper proportions as well as to recognize ill proportion. To the untrained eye, proportion is abstract and complex, yet it is the most pervasive principle of seeing. The ancient Greeks called proportion the soul of what we see.

    The Design Concept Series endeavors to help you bring more beauty and harmony into your home by helping you learn to see better and by helping you to know how to incorporate important design principles

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