The illustrators and designers included in Golden Meaning prove just how relevant the golden mean is. New works by Hort, Ian Wright, Catherine Zask, Moniker, Kapitza, Bibliothèque and Luxury of Protest tackle the brief with intelligence, style and a generous pinch of wit, employing sculpture, poetry, cosmology and, in the case of Deskcamping’s Nick Couch, flapjacks. Several of the contributors use the tools of their trade to explore the dimensions of the golden ratio. George Hardie calculates the proportion between ‘thinking and making, or drawing and doing sums’ and the studio Julia sets its design in Pacioli – a redrawing of Luca Pacioli’s 1509 alphabet of ‘divine proportion’.
Confronted with this array, Bellos was clearly impressed and excited. “That could be in any maths book,” he observed, pointing to one of the designs. “But it’s not going to be because the people that design maths books don’t have this sensibility.” In his introduction he comments: “As a popular maths writer, I am always trying to make abstract ideas accessible and fun. This book succeeds brilliantly in doing just that. I have found it incredibly refreshing to see what to me are familiar concepts reinterpreted in novel, creative ways.” Bellos also provided some much-needed maths know-how in his role as guest critic – Roberts candidly admits: “He understood the responses we had failed to.”
Of course Golden Meaning is not a maths book in the traditional sense. Aimed at both the design and maths communities, it shows how designers can illuminate a complex idea and in the process aims to challenge perceptions of what and who graphic design is for. All of GraphicDesign&’s publishing manifests this kind of thinking.
Collaboration with outside specialists is a working model Roberts and Wright insist on, and one that they have found extremely rewarding. As a practitioner, Roberts is well aware of the tight-knit and sometimes insular world of her profession. Wright agrees: “An objective is that our books reach a non-design audience and, through that, make our subject more accessible and inclusive.”