The Composition Rule For Designers

The Golden Ratio What is it and why is it important to a designer?

At the moment I am mentoring my first round of amazing interior designers who are setting up their businesses. I realized when I was writing this section of my program, I needed to go deeper, but it was also an opportunity to give my blog readers a bit of a lesson on proportion and composition.

What my aim is to help us as “non-academics” in architecture to understand something quite fascinating that is actually very relevant to our lives. As many of us seek beauty in either the work we do or the things we create there are a few secrets that the ancient designers knew about that have been forgotten or are unknown to many a modern designer, which could help in creating well-proportioned spaces, designs and buildings.

The ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians had knowledge of a mathematical equation which is visible in nature (sunflowers, shells and pineapples to name just a few), and they used this mathematical equation to create perfectly harmonious structures, paintings and art.

If you ever read Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code then you would have heard of the Fibonacci sequence (a number sequence which adds the two before it 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13, 21 and on). This is closely related to the Golden Mean although Fibonacci didn’t know it if you divided the numbers that make up the Fibonacci sequence they also oscillate around phi or the Golden Ratio.

For the geeky of you who want to know just a little more, the golden ratio is equal to approximately 1.618 (or the Greek letter phi – not to be confused with pi). So very simply, the golden ration (or golden mean or Golden Section) is a mathematically worked out rule of harmony. But for us as humans, it is easily understood by figuring out what the most harmonious and beautiful rectangle looks like (thanks Jo for totally destroying the mystery).

This is why it is important to designers, photographers and architects or anyone in a creative industry because it gives you a rule of thumb for creating beautiful pages, compositions, designs and in my case, fenestration which is in harmony with the other parts of a building.

So here it is (the purple outline):

The Golden Ratio

You can see it here, this is the perfect rectangle. Great huh? Pleasing to your eyes much?

It isn’t that relevant looking at it on the screen like this so I went for a walk through London and took a few photos of some classically proportioned buildings to demonstrate this example for you.  We will work out how to create it next time, but for now, let’s just see how it is used in these buildings to create pleasing harmony.

Perfectly proportioned rectangle (Golden Ratio)

 

So what are you looking at here?  I just superimposed our perfectly proportioned rectangle (Golden Ratio) onto this lovely London Regency style terrace to see if it had been designed with the golden ration and yep, there it is, sure enough, this designer knew how to create some pretty proportions.

Again perfectly proportioned rectangle (Golden Ratio)

I just played around with the proportions and tested how it could relate to other parts of the buildings.

 

The small parts are related to the whole composition

 

And as you can see the relationships are pretty unmistakable, which means that the proportions of this building were designed around knowing this pretty cool composition rule. Even to those of you who don’t love these terraces (do you exist?) At least you can see that they were thought out in a way that made sense mathematically and subconsciously as they are inextricably linked to nature and our daily lives.

 

As you see nothing has been left to chance

 

In my next blog post, I will show you how to create a perfect rectangle, so that you know how to use it yourself.

INTERIOR DESIGNER’S BUSINESS SCHOOL