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Apple’s iCloud Icon Uses The Golden Ratio (stam-design-stam.blogspot.com)
145 points by p0ppe on June 17, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 27 comments

Apple's design reputation is so established at this point that, if they hadn't used the Golden Ratio, I suspect there would be articles titled "Why does Apple's iCloud Icon deliberately ignore the Golden Ratio?"

As far as I know there is no scientific evidence which would prove that people prefer artworks that are aligned to golden ratio proportions. In other words - golden ratio is pure pseudoscience when used in context of design: http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/pseudo/fibonacc.htm

I found the side-by-side comparison of the two images of the Parthenon one of the best arguments _for_ the golden ratio I've ever seen.

The part followed by:

> One of these has been stretched vertically 20%, or reduced vertically 20%. Which one do you find most pleasing? Most dramatic? Most like the real thing?

The one on the left is more pleasing to me. The one on the right looks garish. The one on the right is the stretched one right? In fact they both look distorted to me, I believe the images also are being scaled to irregular proportions by the HTML. A direct link to the source image of the one on the left looks correct to me: http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/pseudo/nashv.jpg But I'm no expert and maybe I'm making a fool of myself.

But going back to the author's intention, I read the sentence I quoted several times, and I still don't know what his preference is. The fact that he said "most dramatic" makes me think he prefer the one on the right?

With respect to using the golden ratio in design. I am a designer. I've never used the golden ratio, but I understand the desire to. As design is discipline with very few rules, we latch onto anything concrete, whether the benefits are real or imaginary. Otherwise it just feels like shooting in the dark. While I'm agnostic on whether the golden ratio is actually objectively attractive or not, the benefits of using a framework like this I find to be invaluable.

Here is what I mean: lets say you use the golden ratio to layout out a blog, i.e., place the logo, main content, sidebar, etc... Then you use the golden ratio again to layout an individual blog post, i.e., the header, the text of the post, maybe a pull quote, and some inline images. Now you've done something I can attest to the benefits of, because you've created a harmonious repetition of proportion through-out the design. When I look back at my own design work, the strongest dividing line between the work I am proud of and the work I am no longer proud of, is just this. When I started using a concrete system to repeat proportion through out the design, to my admittedly subjective eye, the quality of my design work greatly increased.

It may use the golden ration, but I don't find the iCloud logo that nice or that memorable.

The interesting stuff its the images, unless you know japanese of course.

Here is the google translate: http://translate.google.com/translate?js=n&prev=_t&h...

Nice find, but for me that's just basic design principles applied to an icon design. The golden ratio isn't really something that's new or anything...

What's the ratio between the two 1.6 circles?

Yes this is the question, are the two larger circles also in the golden section proportion? I assume they are.

Also interesting is the position of the circles inside boundary of the (golden section) rectangle.

If the two larger circles had that ratio then it would imply that the two circles in the bottom left and bottom right would have the same radius. Which they don't appear to. So the ratio between the two larger circles must be slightly smaller, 1.5ish maybe.

Yes, you are correct. This seems to be the flaw in the design then , i.e. no organic relationship between the two clusters except the arbitrary golden section boundary.

I just happened to wonder yesterday whether there actually was any scientific data on whether the golden ratio is actually significantly more pleasing than other ratios.

Turns out there isn't much data, and of what there is, it doesn't always point at a significant preference for certain ratios. And even where it does, and then where it actually points near the golden ratio, it's inconclusive whether people prefer 1.5, 1.618 or 1.666.

But yeah they do turn up in nature over and over again.

The "aesthetically pleasing" bit is just something that's been repeated for centuries, swallowed without thinking.

So if there actually were a preference, that sounds like a good explanation. Doesn't really mean it works the other way around, though.

also see: http://plus.maths.org/content/os/issue22/features/golden/ind...

Artists Komar and Melamid demonstrated the how artistic preferences vary around the world with a 1995 project called "Most Wanted and Least Wanted Paintings".

Komar and Melamid's paintings "reflect the artists' interpretation of a professional market research survey about aesthetic preferences and taste in painting. Intending to discover what a true "people's art" would look like, the artists ... expanded their market research to more than a dozen countries around the globe and in turn, created Most Wanted and Least Wanted paintings for each country."

Curiously, Holland's most and least wanted preferences are nearly the reverse of the other countries!

* Survey results: http://awp.diaart.org/km/

* The resulting paintings: http://awp.diaart.org/km/painting.html

This site seems to be filled with wonderful design goodies.

  I wish two things:
  1. That I could read Japanese
  2. The site was in English.

I get the impression that designers just use the golden ratio as a very quick way to choose different sizes for objects and layouts. It's really not that interesting.

How is it not interesting that these ratios turn out to be aesthetically pleasing over and over again? To me, that's fascinating.

As far as I know, It's not known whether this is a causal relationship. It's possible that art that uses the golden ratio tends to be viewed as beautiful because of some magical aesthetic property of the GR, and that artists create art using this ratio intuitively.

But it's also possible that artists (and especially designers) tend to use it a lot just because they've heard that it's beautiful, when really it's nothing special. In this case, it would just tend to crop up in beautiful works because a) it crops up in all kinds of works anyway (base rate) and b) there's a whole lot of looking for it in hindsight (especially in works acknowledged as beautiful, while nobody goes looking for it in ugly works).

Some kind of A-B study would be nice. I found one (http://www.livescience.com/7389-sense-beauty-partly-innate-s...), but the methodology seems a bit lacking, I'd say it's far from conclusive.

there is also an habit factor: after a few thousand years of using the golden ratio in objects we may have an unconscious knowledge of those proportions and find them beautiful simply because we have seen very often "beautiful" things that used such ratio.

It's confusing, if you assume that our preferences are totally arbitrary. If 'liking the golden ratio' is a property of being human, it's profound, but not confusing.

Thing is that the ideal might not be the golden ratio. Maybe we prefer pi/2 instead of (1 + sqrt(5)) / 2. Who's to say? Pi/2 is if anything -more- fundamental. It seems to be that we don't like things to look too square or too oblong, which limits us to the range of 4:3 through 7:3 as 'aesthetically acceptible'. phi just happens to be in the middle of this. So is pi/2, as noted previously.

You could test this, by showing people some rectangles and asking which ones they like -- 1.4:1, 1.5:1, 1.6:1, 1.7:1, 1.8:1, 1.9:1, etc.

One thing that's interesting is the rise of 8:5 screen dimensions over the old styles of 4:3 and 16:9. 8:5 is, coincidentally, right next to phi, and is in fact a convergent of its continued fraction. 8:5 includes 1280x800, 1440x900, and 1680x1050, 4:3 includes 640x480 and 1024x768, and 16:9 includes the oddball 1366x768. It could just be that the math is easier with 8 and 5, though, since their reciprocals both terminate.

Actually for typical (cheap), large consumer displays 16:9 seems to be taking over. It's increasingly hard to find 16:10 24"+ monitors that aren't >$600. I'm not sure whether this is due to demand, the economics of larger displays, or the rise of HD television (720p, 1080p are both 16:9).

HD televisions. They reuse the same LCD panels in monitors and HDTVs.

If (!!) our ratio preferences are arbitrary, it still seems like general population's preference would coalesce to some ratio.

For example, being right or left handed doesn't seem to have any particular advantage, as long as your handedness is the same as everyone else. It seems like humans have arbitrarily "chosen" right-handedness. :)

Not so much the golden ratio itself but the fact that some icon uses it? Link an article that goes in depth about the golden ratio. But what designers are doing with icons? Totally disinteresting.


BS is called in the comments section of this article

Therefore you can take any 10 good logos or designs, or even well composed photos, and you'll probably find in 7 out of them the golden ratio implemented somehow!

Sounds like a testable claim to me.

The issue, though, is defining «has the golden ratio implemented somehow» in a way that it wouldn't be more likely than not that the golden ratio would be considered «implemented» more often than not if the hypothesis were false anyways.

Hey Apple, hows about you come back out of your own asshole?

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