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.

Download your favorite wallcoverings below. We’ve also included links to entries from our Object of the Week blog so that you can learn more about these unique designs.

Cute drawings of tigers, lions, and monkeys peep through green foliage in this wallcovering with a blue background

[Download]   [Object of the Week]

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.

A pattern shows white mounted horns on orange mounts on a brown background, creating a hunting lodge effect

[Download]   [Object of the Week]

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. 

[Download]   [Object of the Week]

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.

A repeating patter of two shiny cherries with stems intertwined on a shiny gold background

[Download]   [Object of the Week]

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. 

Repeating pattern of gigantic iridescent green beetles on white background

[Download]   [Object of the Week]

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.

A repeating background of slightly misprinted U.S. currency on a shiny bronze background

[Download]   [Object of the Week]

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.

Green seahorses and tropical fish swim through white coral on an orange background

[Download]   [Object of the Week]

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.

14 thoughts on “7 Funky Backgrounds for Your Next Virtual Happy Hour

These are wonderful! Thank you for sharing them.

Agreed ! Now PLEASE add a Charles E. Burchfield design from your collection so we may use them for our meetings at the Burchfield Penney Art Center !

I miss that blue mac laptop pictured! Everything afterwards is booooooring!

They’re absolutely gorgeous! What a fun idea!

Maxine Vermont, New York Strong April 12, 2020
Miss The Cooper Hewitt, thank you for sharing
These wonderful Designs with us all

Maxine, Vermont, New York Strong April 12, 2020
Miss The Cooper Hewitt, thank you for sharing
These wonderful Designs with us all

Oooh! I want Burchfield, too!
These are great!

I also miss the blue computer. And most of the other colors that Apple made their products.
PCs have always been booooring, but for awhile there, Apple brought color-joy into our lives.

Will be making everyone look like a Kehinde Wiley painting.

Thank you for these colorful backgrounds!

Can someone please tell me how this works? I have it downloaded but what do I do now?

love the jungle and the fish would be good for kids room or fabric.

Great presentation, wonderful, insightful stories.
One place I disagree: Beetles aren’t “scary”. Let’s begin addressing the insect kingdom with the same respectful dialog we apply to others, (like the Smithsonian always does). It’s only the word “scary” I object to . . . Thanks

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