Why is the OUR logo a rectangle with the black box inside?

I designed the OUR logo based on the phi ratio (more on that in a minute) because it has significance in mathematics, biology, architecture, music, art and philosophy, to name a few disciplines. I also like how it looks. Have a look at the rectangle in the upper right corner of this page and notice that inside there is a square on the bottom with a smaller rectangle (turned 90 degrees with respect to the outer rectangle) on top. And, amazingly enough, that smaller rectangle can also be subdivided into a square and an even smaller rectangle and so on, until we reach the limits of resolution (so we made that smallest rectangle black, although clearly the series could continue). For me, that represents turning inward to refine a question and uncover a creative spark to seek answers. But of course, we could extend the logo outward to infinity by adding a square to create a larger rectangle (note that this square would need to be added to the left side), and then another above to create an even larger rectangle, etc. Try it! For me, this represents looking outward to make connections, find mentors, and seek advice. And as for that ratio, it defines the single way that a line can be divided into two parts so that the ratio of the two lengths is the same as the ratio of the larger length to the original line. For example, if you were to divide a line in half, this wouldn’t work, would it because the two new lengths would be equal (ratio = 1) while the “larger” length is half of the original (ratio = .5). You can measure the phi ratio (also called the “Golden Proportion”) for yourself using the OUR logo. And now with any luck you’ll begin to notice “Golden Rectangles” everywhere.


  1. vhench
    Posted January 22, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    I love the way the logo symbolizes two aspects that are essential to creative progress in scholarship and research: “turning inward to refine a question and uncover a creative spark to seek answers” and “looking outward to make connections, find mentors, and seek advice”. A similar concept was discussed in a recent NY Times Op Ed piece.
    As I read Susan Cain’s Op Ed, I kept emphatically agreeing and thinking, ‘Yes, OMG, I am such an introvert’!
    One quote taken from the article might (hopefully) foreshadow a role that this blog space can serve:
    “Marcel Proust called reading a “miracle of communication in the midst of solitude,” and that’s what the Internet is, too. It’s a place where we can be alone together — and this is precisely what gives it power.”
    The creative process that works best for me is a combination of ah-ha moments, intense discussion with friends and colleagues, ‘thought experiments’ (a phrase I’ve learned from Pat) and material experiments. I thrive on the energy I get from sharing ideas. Furthermore, I rely on social interactions to help sift out the good ideas worth pursuing, from the lesser impact ideas that are better left abandoned. In the end, no matter how much fun we have generating a good idea, carrying it through to being actualized is hard work. We can use our social networks to help us decide what, where, and when a brilliant idea is truly worth pursuing!

  2. Donna Bickford
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    As a new member of the OUR staff, it is exciting for me to think through how the logo represents our philosophy and what we want for our students and other stakeholders – continuous learning, inspiration from without and within, support, and limitless creativity.

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