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Four steps for designing the perfect pedestal for your sculpture

You just got home from that amazing trip to [insert fancy European city here], where you finally found that perfect piece for your home or office place. Now the question is, how will you display it?

Ask any museum curator or gallery owner and they’ll tell you that how you display a work of art is absolutely crucial—it’s directly related to a viewer’s overall appreciation of the piece. Oftentimes the difference between a few inches to the left or a laminate vs. acrylic finish on the display structure can make the difference between a perfect and a second-rate presentation.

At Xylem Design/Pedestal Source, we ask our customers four questions to help them design the ideal display, and we’ve found that those who thoughtfully think through these steps are the happiest with the final product. While there are endless custom options, these are the four basic design components that need to be accounted for.

Step One: Shape

Most pedestals come in three basic shapes: circular, square, or rectangular. Wendy, one of our customer care representatives who walks through this process with art collectors multiple times a day, thinks the best way to compare options is to see them for yourself. Wendy’s pro tip: Cut out the different shapes from newspaper or cardboard to help visualize how each might look under your piece.


If you’re still not sure, try browsing through our photo gallery to see what you like/don’t like, and whether you can find a similar piece for comparison. If you decide to design your pedestal with us, we’re always happy to get on the gemba cam to help you visualize the options.


Step Two: Material

At Xylem, we offer a wide variety of materials to choose from, including laminate, acrylic, wood veneer and metal. Each one has its own look and feel. If you’ve got the time, we highly recommend ordering a sample of whatever material you’re considering to see how it looks with your piece and in the location where you plan to display it—wall color, furniture and decor all make a difference.

Image courtesy of Briana Arlene Photography.

Step Three: Size

There are two aspects of display size to consider: height and footprint. When considering height, we recommend experimenting with different measurements in the room by placing painting tape on the wall where your sculpture would hit with different display sizes. This can help you visualize how it will look in relation to other objects in the room and to the ceiling. Trinity Wilbourn, co-founder of the home staging firm Trove Collective, suggests varying heights in a room to add interest and depth. So making sure your sculpture isn’t on an even plane with a couch or table will help it stand out.

Step Four: Lighting

When it comes to lighting, it’s crucial to know where you plan to display the sculpture. Indoor vs. outdoor, ceiling height, the direction the windows face, etc. all have their unique implications. Lighting can also have a huge effect on the mood and feel of a piece. For example, one of Wendy’s customers was sure she wanted lower corner lighting on her Madonna statue, but when she tested it out, she realized it gave the piece an ominous feel. In contrast, the ambient lighting tends to have a warming, comforting effect.

We offer a variety of lighting and accessory options, and it can be overwhelming to choose. To help with analysis paralysis, one of Wendy’s pro tips is to use a flashlight to experiment with different directional light at different times of day to see which one you like best.

We’re always happy to walk our customers through this process over the phone, but some of these decisions will come down to preference. The most important thing is that you take the time to “do your homework”—take the time to consider the options available to you. After all, you went through all the work of purchasing the piece and bringing it home—it’s important the display does it justice.