Where to Place Boxes
Whether you are intending to buy a box for yourself or give as a gift, here are some things to consider.
Display boxes are intended for both display and practical storage and so I design and size my boxes for display first, and storage second, mainly because no one wants to display an awkward looking box.
Decorative boxes are practical for storing important items that one does not want to become lost in the typical jumble of draws full of things. Placing something in a particular box makes it easy to find because you always know where it is.
Display boxes typically end up on tables, shelves, desks, credenzas, dressers and mantles. As we all know, any flat surface has a lot of competition for things you want to put on it. Therefore, particularly large boxes are hard to place because they will take up a lot space and often seem out of proportion to the setting.
Most of my boxes are rectangular since that is the best shape for normal placement, which is most often on a shelf. Shelves generally are 10" wide, sometimes less, rarely wider. Therefore I try to keep the width 10" or under so that a box placed on shelf is not hanging over the edge, which doesn't look so good.
Rectangular boxes (as opposed to square) also are best suited for placement on credenzas and side tables where the shape of the box conforms to the shape of the table since tables are rarely ever square, or even close to it.
The one exception is the coffee table in a living or family room where a more square box may be more suitable, for storing things like TV remote controls and the like. Therefore, most of my larger boxes have an 80% width ratio that makes them almost square but not quite. They won't look as odd sitting on a long coffee table as a square box would.
Additionally, I generally use the golden mean, the ration of 1.6: 1, known as phi in Greek, which is widely regarded throughout history as the best proportions. Thus, I don't make tall boxes simply because they don't look good in most settings. Most of my boxes are low and shallow because that is the most attractive proportion, though I'm completely aware that constrains what one may put in it and still get the top closed.