Sunday, April 14, 2013

Principles of Design - Proportion

Principle of Design - Proportion
 The next principle of design to write about is proportion.  This principle is closely associated with scale because they both express concepts of relative size and magnitude.

Proportion is defined as the relationship of the parts to one another or to the whole.  Scale refers to the size of a item in relation or comparison to another item.  Proportion is thought of as the relationship of parts contained  within an object.

Proportion can be expressed as matters of width in relation to length with which designers seek to balance the parts to one another to create an aesthetic composition.

The Greeks create the basic principle of proportion when they developed the ""golden rectangle" which is a ration of two parts to three.  The golden rectangle represents the division of a form or line in which the side of the smaller portion in relation to the larger is identical, as the side of the larger part is to the whole object.  This idea is that the division of a line between one third and one half of its length which produces a pleasing proportion to the eye.

The photo above of Frank Gehry's AGO shows the curved wood divided in 3 thirds to create a very proportionate design as the wood bends up the side of the building.

The image to the right shows how the stairs have a yellow paint line on the top third of the step.  It creates a pleasing proposition of the steps and a beautiful pattern as you look up the stairs.


  1. Kilmer, Rosemary & Kilmer W. Otie (1992). Designing Interiors. Orlando, FL.  Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers. pp 119-120