What is the golden ratio — Divina Proportione

Prathyusha Shastry
3 min readMar 16, 2022
The golden ratio

In the world of design, one number reigns supreme: the golden ratio. This number, which has been represented by the Greek letter phi (phi), has been referenced and repeated throughout the history of design, fascinating artists, architects and designers for centuries. This omnipresent presence of the golden ratio in our world is one of the most interesting and inexplicable phenomena in the history of human creativity.

The golden ratio is 1:0.618 and has been coined golden because it is said to be aesthetically pleasing (Closely related to the Fibonacci Sequence).

The methodology of the golden ratio

Two numbers are in the golden ratio if the ratio of the sum of the numbers (a and b) divided by the larger number (a) is equal to the ratio of the larger number divided by the smaller number (a/b).

It has been observed in the proportions of things like flowering plants, the length of a human forearm, the number of petals on a flower, the girth of a tree, and the size and shape of a pine cone. The golden ratio has fascinated artists, architects and designers for centuries. It can be found in some of the most renowned works of art from the renaissance to modern art.

The golden ratio in nature

Here are some of the most fascinating uses-

The paintings of Leonardo da Vinci-

One of the most well-known artists in history, Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) was a Renaissance polymath. One of the most striking features of many of his paintings is their use of the golden ratio.

In the painting, The Vitruvian Man, the length of the inner arm is exactly equal to the length of the outer arm.

The Vitruvian man by Leonardo Davinci

Mona Lisa shows a striking display of the same. The golden ratio is used in the composition of the painting, which is visible in the woman’s hands, facial composition and posture.

The Mona Lisa, by CraftWhack.com

Da Vinci used the golden ratio in The Last Supper to align the composition of the painting with the golden section.

The last supper

The columns of the Parthenon to the Great Pyramids of Giza

The ancient Greeks knew of a rectangle whose sides are in the golden proportion (1: 1.618 which is the same as 0.618). The Parthenon is 30.8 meters wide and 69.51 meters long (101 and 228 feet, respectively). This equals a 4:9 ratio.

Usage of the golden ratio in Greek architecture

Golden ratio in Islamic Architecture — Taj mahal

Taj Mahal. Montagem feita sobre foto de Shashidhar S via Unsplash

Many twentieth-century artists and architects, including Le Corbusier and Salvador Dali, incorporated the golden ratio into their work.

Although not universal, the divina proportione is the most pleasing to the eye. This concept has survived a course of 1,500 years to seamlessly integrate into the present-day design.

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Prathyusha Shastry

Communication and Interaction designer | Masters in design from National Institute of Design | Website prathyusha.in