A word about “Design”
Design is easy, every time you put a pencil to paper you are designing something. every cut and every glue up and nail you have designed something. We do it every day without thinking about it.
Design is difficult, how do we get proportions exactly right? how to draw that or take that picture or write that book.
I’m not a very good writer, so I can’t really comment on designing something to be read.
In Designing drawings, illustrations, sculpture and furniture, there are some tools out there that can help you, but don’t let them enslave you.
One that has had recurring popularity for over 2000 years (or more) is the notion of the “golden section” or golden ratio or golden triangle or golden thingy. approximated at a ratio of 1:1.618 or just stated at 1.618. this notion is that all Natural things conform to this ratio therefore it is the most beautiful thingy in all of creation. if we use it to make a rectangle with the short side of x we get the long side of x times 1.618 which can divided or multiplied “ad infinitum”.
However I personally think that cabinets made to this proportion look too tall and narrow or short and long. I prefer the ratio of x times the square root of 2. Or; take a square, use the length of the diagonal to make it into a rectangle. it’s a little stouter. that is a ratio of 1:1.414 or 1.414.
But there is a great deal of debate about even using ANY ratio when designing.
Many designers/artists make things they like and then try to Force the perception that the golden ratio or some other Ideal “fits”. And when you really look, you see many things that sort of almost fit the golden mean, but don’t really.
And it’s that, Which points out that every so often there are people who want to “prove” that math perfectly describes the world around us And that the world around us is “Perfect”, when it just isn’t so. And in reaction are the people who then want to prove it’s all a fraud, which is also not really true.
Is the “Golden Ratio” useful as a design tool? YES …Should you force all of your work to exactly match it? No
When I design a new furniture piece I sketch it out first trying to get the “right” proportions “by eye” I then go to a CAD program and draw it to proportions of 1.414 and again to 1.616 to see which I like better for this project. and sometimes I completely reject all of those proportions, but many times I go with the 1.414.
when designing, rules like the golden section can be useful, and rules are tools. As we learn more and more about “what works” we learn which tool to use for which job. Sometimes the golden section is “perfect” for what you are doing. Sometimes it’s not.