deltaflow: home

Golden ratio in the design of the iPod

Posted by Julian Seidenberg on 6 January 2006 | 33 Comments


The Apple iPod is the world's most beautiful MP3 player.

The iPod was designed by Jonathan Ive and his team of designers. Their goal was to create the perfect product. They achieved this with an extreme amount of attention to detail.

One aspect of the design is the basic shape of the device. The rectangle that is the iPod comes closer than any other MP3 player to the golden ratio 1 : 1.618 (also sometimes called the golden section). This ratio appeals to us at an unconscious level.

Attractive human faces have proportions that correspond to the golden ratio, indeed, the human body itself exemplifies this ratio, the Greek Parthenon and many other famous ancient monuments use the ratio throughout their design, the logarithmic spiral on a Nautilus Shell conforms the to golden ratio and even a TV image using those proportion is more appealing (that's why widescreen TV is 16:10). The golden section is deeply ingrained in the design of the Universe. We can't help but be attracted by it.

Here are the ratios of several popular MP3 players:

ipod iriver h10 creative nomad zen xtra

1 : 1.67 = iPod
1 : 1.75 = iRiver H10
1 : 1.47 = Creative Nomad Zen Xtra

The iRiver is too tall, the Nomad is far too fat, but the iPod's shape, though also slightly too tall, comes closest to this magic ratio. It is certainly no accident that it is the most visually appealing. I am however surprised that no other company has created an MP3 player that exactly uses the golden section (the iRiver H320 comes close by using the same ratio as the iPod, but otherwise looks like an ugly brick - sigh).

So remember, whenever you design anything try to use this golden ratio and people will become instinctively attracted.


  • Posted by Matt, 09/01/2006 10:15pm (10 years ago)

    the ratio of the dell pocket dj is even closer, 1.66666 etc. (3.5x2.1) .

  • Posted by Lori, 09/01/2006 8:13pm (10 years ago)

    The Golden Ratio is also what is mentioned in the book the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. It is a very important part of the whole story and is explained rather well. The divine perfect number.

  • Posted by Moksha, 09/01/2006 7:33pm (10 years ago)

    "I saw it on the internet--so it must be true"

  • Posted by peter everett, 09/01/2006 1:44pm (10 years ago)

    you spoke no words about the golden ratio, just lame i-pods...

    how boring...

  • Posted by Labnotes » Blog Archive » links for 2006-01-09, 09/01/2006 5:22am (10 years ago)

    [...] deltaflow ?» Blog Archive ?» Golden ratio in the design of the iPod Get your proportions right. (tags: design) [...]

  • Posted by Whosawhatsis, 09/01/2006 1:42am (10 years ago)

    The ratio of the dimensions of the iPod itself may not be exactly phi, but the ratio of the diameter of the click wheel to the width of the iPod is.

  • Posted by Tim, 08/01/2006 11:35pm (10 years ago)

    Creative Zen Micro is 2x3.3, which i believe is 1 : 1.65. That's closer than the iPod.
    Not sure i think that all things must be that ratio, but... in those pictures up there, you're right, iPod has the best ratio.

  • Posted by Damir Tomicic, Microsoft Regional Director, 08/01/2006 10:39pm (10 years ago)

    [...] 08 January 2006 [Design] Goldener Schnitt, iPod und die Fibonacci-Folge Feine Details entscheiden oft ? 1/4 ber den Erfolg. Eine solche entscheidende Kleinigkeit hat JulianMalik Seidenberg [1] entdeckt, n??mlich die Proportionen des iPod (1:1,67) im Vergleich zu iRiver H10 (1:1,75) und Creative Nomad Zen Xtra (1:1,45). Das Team um Jonathan Ive [2] hat die Regel des Goldenen Schnitts [3] genutzt um seine Kreation harmonisch wirken zu lassen. iRiver ist dagegen zu hoch, Zen zu breit und erscheint klobig. Der Goldene Schnitt ist das L??ngenverh??ltnis zweier Strecken, bei dem sich die gr????ere (Major) zur kleineren (Minor) Strecke verh??lt, wie die Summe der beiden Strecken zum gr????eren Teil. Klingt komisch, ist aber so ... Der Goldene Schnitt bezeichnet ein Teilungsverh??ltnis, den die Menschen als besonders harmonisch empfinden und der sich in der Natur ? 1/4 berall vorfindet. Wie gesagt, kleiner aber feiner Unterschied. Davon verstehen die Mac-Designer was. Interessanterweise spielt der goldene Schnitt nicht nur im Design, sondern auch in der Mathematik eine wichtige Rolle. Die Zahlenfolge 1,2,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89,144,... nennt man Fibonacci-Folge, die Glieder dieser Folge Fibonacci-Zahlen. Die Folge der Quotienten zweier aufeinander folgender Zahlen in der Fibonacci-Folge konvergiert gegen? Klar, gegen das Verh??ltnis des Goldenen Schnittes. Eigentlich wollte der gute Fibonacci folgende Fragestellung l??sen: "Wie viele Kaninchenpaare gibt es am Ende eines Jahre, wenn im Januar 1 Paar zur Welt kommt und wenn es ab dem Alter von 2 Monaten jedes Paar jeden Monat ein weiteres Paar in die Welt setzt?", und sti?? dabei auf eine der wohl bedeutensten und n? 1/4 tzlichsten Zahlenfolgen in der Mathematik. Diese Folge bildet die Grundlage f? 1/4 r die Planung wichtiger Bauwerke, beispielsweise der Kuppel des Domes von Florenz. Oder des iPods. Als Beispiel zur Verwendung der Fibonacci-Zahlen im Web dient die Website eines Weltkonzerns aus Erlangen. Mehr sag ich nicht. [1][2][3] . . . . . . posted on 21:38:41 GMT Standard Time     |    Comments [0] [...]

  • Posted by moon.god, 08/01/2006 10:15pm (10 years ago)

    such rubbish. the golden ratio is just *one* way to make things look aesthetically. if you theory was right, then the ipod wouldnt be anything like perfect. neither is the ratio of its screen conform to the golden ratio nor is the it in the third dimension. the ipod is just very nice because of its simplicity. the designer was very consequent while thinking about the ipod's look.
    saying that the ipod has "the perfect design" is idiotic anyway. that's like saying mony lisa was the perfect painting. there is no "perfect" in art. there is just great and not so great. both lying in the eye of the viewer.

  • Posted by Roomba, 08/01/2006 8:14pm (10 years ago)

    Most all marketing is based on this. look at the boxes at the food store.

Post your comment

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments