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The Geometry of Furniture Design

Golden Ratio & other design tricks

 The Golden Ratio or the Golden Mean is found through out nature. It defines the size relationship between component parts. Represented by the Greek letter N (phi), the Golden Ratio can be expressed as the equation [1+ SQRT(5)]/2 = N. For practical purposes I use 1.618. This ratio works well because when it is used to divide a line of given length, the golden ratio defines not only the long half to the short half, but also the ratio between the long half and the total line. For some reason, the human brain finds this relationship a pleasing and beautiful ratio. Through out history, buildings such as the Parthenon and the Great Pyramid of Gaza have been constructed using this ratio. It is also found throughout nature from the size relationship of your finger segments to the spacing of the planets orbits.

 Knowing when and where to apply this ratio to furniture design can make a significant difference in the appearance of the piece. It can be a subtle change from squat or boxy to beautiful and graceful.

 There are other ratios that are used in furniture design. The Fibonacci series is a sequence of numbers with each number equal the sum of the two previous numbers. ei: 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21, etc.

 I personally like the Harmonic series, possibly because I am also a musician. This series is made up of whole number ratios; 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, 1/7, etc.   I think this series makes the most pleasing drawer spacing.

 Designing a piece of furniture with perfect proportions is rarely possible in the real world. But any attempt to approach these perfect ratios is virtually guaranteed to produce a better result than designing with no regard for any such paradigm.

 Also remember that adjustments are made by the eye to make a piece look more balanced. Things that the eye considers are the shape and direction of the wood grain, edges finished to give the impression of thickness or thinness, use of tapers & curves and the use of moldings to accent or adjust an apparent ratio. These and the mixing and matching of many other design paradigms will produce an object of beauty and a true Masterpiece Furniture Creation.


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