Why do we appreciate beauty? What is it about a particular piece of artwork, certain architecture, a specific photograph or even that one individual's face we can't forget? What draws us in, keeps us staring for hours and continues to bring us back for more? According to many masters, this type of captivation is the result of perfect proportion. More specifically, a mathematical principle known as The Golden Ratio.
Based on the Fibonacci Sequence, The Golden Ratio describes the relationship between two proportions. Fibonacci numbers, like many elements found in nature, follow a 1:1.618 ratio - this is what we refer to as The Golden Ratio, also known as The Golden Mean, The Golden Section or Divine Proportion.
Artists and architects have long constructed their works to approximate The Golden Ratio, believing this proportion to be most aesthetically pleasing. The Golden Ratio has also been used to analyze the proportions of natural objects, human faces as well as man-made systems such as financial markets.
The Swiss architect, Le Corbusier, famous for his contributions to the modern International Style, centered his design philosophy on systems of harmony and proportion. Le Corbusier's faith in the mathematical order of the universe was closely bound to The Golden Ratio and the Fibonacci Series, which he described as "rhythms apparent to the eye and clear in their relations with one another; and these rhythms are at the very root of human activities, they resound in man by an organic inevitability..."
As I ponder the minds of these great masters (and my own work as a designer), I have come to the conclusion that this principle is indeed significant, fascinating, even divine. But, there is a part of me that knows deep down, beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder, and that Edgar Allen Poe was onto something when he said , "There is no exquisite beauty without some strangeness in the proportion."
I will hold onto the fact that perfection can never be achieved, we are human after all. There is no such thing as the perfect design, piece of art, architecture, photograph or person. So, what draws us in, keeps us staring for hours and brings as back for more? In the end, we appreciate beauty simply because it is beautiful to us - and no principle can (or needs to) rationalize that.
Now, an ode to the less proportionate...
and in life...
Be inspired....appreciate that which is beautiful and perfect to you.