The golden ratio in modern design

The Parthenon, in Athens, is one of the earliest examples of how the golden ratio can be applied in architecture.

For more than 2,000 years, architects, artists and designers have used the "golden ratio" as the basis for their work. Originally put forward by Euclid, the "Father of Geometry," in about 300 B.C.E., the ratio is: a+b is to a as a is to b.

While that may seem a bit technical, the ratio describes in a relatively simple manner a proportion that can be used to create buildings and design spaces that make them optimally attractive on a visual level. It is also widely seen in nature - proportions for flowers, animals and even bamboo often ascribe to the ratio - further solidifying its importance as a descriptor of basic beauty.

The golden ratio in art and design
Also known as the divine proportion, the golden ratio has been used in some of the most famous buildings and works of art in human history, from the Parthenon in Athens to the paintings of Leonardo Da Vinci. More recently, it has also become an important component of modern design.

In her new coffee table book on interior design, "The Inspired Home: Interiors of Deep Beauty," author Karen Lehrman Bloch set out to discover the scientific underpinning behind why she, and many others for that matter, found certain spaces especially appealing. What she found was that many of those spaces - consciously or not - incorporated the golden ratio in some way.

"I began looking at all this new scientific research coming out that was showing why we are attracted to certain things in terms of art and design, what universal principles in architecture and interior design help us feel good," Bloch told The New York Post. "Those studies were more about hospitals and care centers, but I thought, 'Why can't we apply this to homes?' I tried to figure out why a space affected me, what makes it beautiful, why I responded in a deep, emotional way. They were rooms with texture, proportion, grandeur, elegance."

Using the golden ratio in your interior space
Though it may seem complicated, it is actually rather easy to apply the golden ratio in your own design project. And you don't even need complex math to figure out how to use it.

  • Rectangles. Rectangular rooms often "feel" more attractive because they naturally adhere to the ratio. If your room has a different shape, try to give it a more rectangular layout.
  • The Fibonacci sequence. An outgrowth of the golden ratio, the Fibonacci sequence takes it to a more three dimensional level by turning it into a spiral, much like a seashell. Look for furniture or decorations that incorporate spiral patterns, or use spiral layouts for your furniture and accessories.