When I was a young art student I took art history from a professor who was obsessed with taking the Golden Ratio and ghosting it over works of art. He spent an entire semester dropping it on top of the Mona Lisa, the Parthenon and even the Apple logo. I eventually came to the conclusion that while it may be present in some things it was hardly present in all things.
This article sums up that conclusion. I will not discount the importance of the Golden Ratio when it comes to art, design or architecture. Many of the best works fit into the “rectangle”. I would argue that there are just many other design principles that make something visually successful, too. Apply anything from the Universal Principles of Design to a subject and one will soon find that multiple design principles usually exist.
Something isn’t aesthetically pleasing just because it’s ubiquitous. A lesson that Matthew Cross in the Ted Talk should reevaluate. Industrial designer Yves Behar of Fuseproject hits the nail on the head when referencing the Golden Ratio:
I sometimes look at the golden ratio as I observe proportions of the products and graphics we create, but it’s more informational than dogmatic. It’s important as a tool, but not a rule.