Cooper Hewitt

7 Funky Backgrounds For Your Next Virtual Happy Hour

Portrait of Eleanor Garnier Hewitt, who co-founded Cooper Hewitt with her sister Sarah, painted in 1888 by Antonia de Bañuelos and an iBook Laptop Computer designed in 1999 by the Apple Industrial Design Team.
Portrait of Eleanor Garnier Hewitt, who co-founded Cooper Hewitt with her sister Sarah, painted in 1888 by Antonia de Bañuelos and an iBook Laptop Computer designed in 1999 by the Apple Industrial Design Team.

Now that we’ve moved happy hours, birthday parties, and celebrations of all kinds into the digital realm, we’re sharing designs drawn from Cooper Hewitt’s astonishing collection of wallcoverings—among the world’s largest—for you to use as backgrounds on your video conference calls. Think of it as an Immersion Room experience for your home.

These wallcoverings take the stress out of styling your work-from-home space, and also make excellent conversation pieces. As a bonus, you can use them as backgrounds for your desktop or phone.

Leafy background

DOWNLOAD

Hey cool cats and kittens! This background is for you. Tigers and lions (not to mention monkeys) peep through the foliage in this wallpaper, released by Karl Mann Associates in 1963, which will transform your video conference call into a miniature safari.

Antlers background

DOWNLOAD

No animals were harmed in the making of this wallpaper. While you may have spotted lookalike designs on the walls of hip bars in recent years (but hopefully not in recent weeks), Trophées de Chasse was produced in the ‘60s. Designer Joe Martin, working for the New York City-based company Piazza Prints, likely took cues from high-quality French wallpapers of the early 19th century, lending this design its timeless appeal.

Sunflowers background

DOWNLOAD

Enliven your online hang out sessions with this 1970s reimagining of a pattern designed by William Morris nearly a century earlier. Morris, whose designs featured subdued hues achieved with natural dyes, would have likely been shocked to see his sunflowers in this groovy colorway.

Cherries background

DOWNLOAD

If you’re a Willy Wonka fan, then you may find yourself being transported into a world of pure imagination by this Flavor Paper design. In real life, Cherry Forever has a scratch-and-sniff component—Yes, the cherries really smell like cherries! In the virtual world, the shiny red surfaces of the fruits make for tantalizing eye candy.

Bugs background

DOWNLOAD

Giant bugs crawling the walls would be scary in real life, but in this wallpaper designed by Don Flood, we can appreciate rose chafer beetles for their glimmering, eye-catching beauty. This wallpaper exemplifies how contemporary designers subtly incorporate reflective mylar into their designs, as compared to designers of the 1960s and ‘70s, who tended to go overboard with the foil effect.

Money background

DOWNLOAD

In case you were wondering what those over-the-top mylar wallcoverings of the ‘60s and ‘70s looked like, here’s an example. This sidewall, produced by Jack Denst Designs, features one, two, five, ten, and twenty dollar bills printed on a reflective bronze surface. Its title? Alimony.

Seahorse background

DOWNLOAD

Swap out a view of your apartment with this background to feel like a mermaid. In the 1950s, it was popular to decorate with themed wallcoverings in functional spaces. Food and drinks danced along the walls of kitchens, fairy tale characters adorned the walls of children’s rooms, and, as in this design, seahorses and tropical fish transformed bathroom walls into whimsical aquatic scenes.

Hannah Maureen Holden is the Digital Content Editor at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

More From This Author »