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Corbusier and the Modulor Man

In art, design and architecture, scale and proportion are incredibly important. You're probably already familiar with some of these concepts, such as the Fibonacci Sequence or the Golden Ratio. Architect Le Corbusier embraced this philosophy with his use of the so-called Modulor Man, a fictional man standing at exactly six feet tall.

Where did six feet come from? Well..the Modulor Man isn't exactly six feet tall, after all. Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, also known as Le Corbusier, was a French designer and architect. So he naturally worked in the metric system - centimeters rather than feet. The Modulor Man stood at exactly 183 centimeters tall - that's 6.00394 feet, for Americans.

Le Corbusier Modulor Man

Source: The Age, Melbourne, Australia, July 20th 1970

The height of the Modulor Man didn't come out of thin air. Corbusier loved English crime and spy novels, and the detectives in those stories often stood at a convenient six feet tall. Those fictional characters became the inspiration for the Modulor Man and Le Corbusier's future designs.

More important than the height of the Modulor Man was his proportion. Here, Le Corbusier was inspired by the magical ratio of 1.61 (AKA, the golden ratio). The height of the Modulor Man, according to Corbusier, was 1.61 times the length of the height up to the man's belly button.

Le Corbusier Modulor Man

Sketch of the Modular Man in Various Positions - by Le Corbusier

The proportions of the Modular Man inspired and informed many of Corbusier's homes and structures. That might sound odd, but it is an ancient practice. After all, most of our units of measurement to this day are based on human body parts.

Human body measuring stick infographic

You'll find images of the Modulor Man cast into some of Corbusier's most iconic structures - including the Corbusierhaus in Berlin.

Corbusierhaus Berlin

Let's face it: Proportion matters. It's true when it comes to all things of beauty: People, art, furniture and architecture alike. That's often why you can spot furniture knock-offs: The proportion is all wrong. A sculptural chair won't look as beautiful if the legs are too short and the cushions are too thick. Check out vintage mid-century modern classics - in all the right proportions - at the Trystcraft Shop.

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