The impact of aesthetic preference in product design-golden ratio and Korean's preference proportion

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    Background Over the past decades a considerable number of studies have been done on the golden ratio and the relation between their aesthetics and design. These studies, after analyzing design icons with the golden ratio, seem to prove that the golden ratio is an important principle for good design. However, these studies mainly focused on western products that were used in western countries. And thus, the majority of the products were designed by western designers and analyzed by western scholars. These factors raised a doubt whether the golden ratio is also the most aesthetically pleasing proportion in other countries, for example in Asia. Proportions are determined by mathematical logic; however preference and aesthetic judgment are aroused from individual's experience and environmental context. Questioning whether the golden ratio is the most commonly preferred proportion across cultures led to an empirical study to examine the differences between Western and Asian preferences on the golden ratio. Specifically, this study is focused on Koreans' preference and their traditional products. Methods First, the preference experiment on proportion was conducted in South Korea with 277 subjects. Second, this study continued to analyze the proportion of over 100 Korean traditional objects that exemplify the research results. Results The experimental data clearly reveals that Korean subjects have a significant preference for the root ratio (1:1.414). This result obviously contradicts previous studies conducted in western countries that showed a strong preference for the golden ratio, and their good design objects are also characterized by the golden ratio (1:1.618). This study continues to verify that Koreans' favorite ratio could be found in Korean traditional design objects reflecting their preference. Korean traditional design objects show a clearly shorter ratio (1:1, 1:1.333) than the golden ratio (1:1.618). Conclusions It is concluded that the golden ratio is not always the best proportion for a good design, but it may be a preferred proportion since this ratio can be found in everyday objects as one of the predominant design features. Specifically, this finding will evoke deeper insights in the correlation of an influential impact between aesthetic preference and the element of design form and shape.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)5-14
    Number of pages10
    JournalArchives of Design Research
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    • Cultural differences
    • Experimental aesthetics
    • Visual preference


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