The Golden Ratio

03 Apr 2017

Is there such a thing as universal beauty?

While a student in college I presented a design project on the Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. He may be the most referred to architect in history for his writings and his strict use of a mathematical formula known as the golden ratio. 

I remember feeling exhilarated at the notion that I was awakening to a profound secret known and used by the masters, for what makes for pleasing design. It answered many of my internal queries, like why did some exteriors or interiors of buildings have me in their complete adoration, comfort and awe, while others made me extremely uncomfortable and wanting to repel. Little did I know that nature and the science of divine proportion was at the root of my feelings and reactions.

The golden ratio was originally discovered by the Greek mathematician Phidias in 500 BC, a formula associated with the Greek letter Phi (1.618...).  It is considered one of the most significant numbers of all. It embodies a mystical formula of divine proportion. You find it in nature such as shells, flowers and honeycombs. This numerical formula has been a bible for architects, artists and designers since ancient times, all agreeing that the use of this proportion is the most pleasing to the human eye. Leonardo da Vinci for instance used the golden ratio in many of his great works such as the Vitruvian Man, the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.

The golden ratio speaks to a simple mathematical equation; two numbers which produce a third outcome and in its total, produces proportional perfection. As you can see in the graphic to the right, each third number is a sum total of the two portions before it, and so on. 

Numbers are symbols. They embody meaning, carry information, give direction, clues, revelation and bring resolve. They are mystical and magical and are often associated with ancient schools of thought such as sacred numerology and alchemy.

The golden ratio is a wonderful guide. At the same time, we can usually trust our intuition as our soul is quite tuned in to the divine proportions and what is deemed universal beauty. We are, afterall, nature.

So trust your golden self!