Zoom with a view: ten backgrounds for your (virtual) WFH environment


For many, the pressures of self-presentation are already a major source of workplace anxiety. What counts as too formal, and what level of casual makes you lose all credibility? Is wearing too much make up better or worse than not enough? Who decides anyway, and who gave them the authority to?

We might have hoped our current state of enforced home working would offer a holiday from deciphering these sartorial codes. Far from it. Now every major newspaper and lifestyle magazine is publishing guides on how to dress for your daily round of video meetings, while their tech columnists have been drafted in to give you a breakdown of the best face-tuning apps.

Now flooring collection by Bolon; bolon.com. Photo: Pär Olofsson
Flying by Tobias Grau; tobiasgrau.com. Photo: Simon Menges
Chromo Sapiens, Icelandic Pavilion by Shoplifter / Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir at Venice Art Biennale 2019; shoplifter.us. Published in Frame 130 – Interior Matters. Photo: Elisabet Davidsdottir
The Mix Land by Xianxiang Design in Hangzhou, China. Published in Frame 133 – Lookbook. Photo: Wang Minjie
Felix Meritis by i29 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands; i29.nl. Read more here. Photo: Ewout Huibers

Added to this, and arguably more fright inducing, you have to also consider what your colleagues will make of your home decor. Even the most house proud still value their privacy, but what was once an enigma for all but those select few who’ve transitioned from coworker to genuine friend is now visible to anyone who logs on. What will the CMO think of your galley kitchen? Does the HR manager approve of the state of your cactus garden? And how hard are the interns having to try to cover their disgust at the sight of your book collection, or lack thereof?

Thankfully most of the major teleconferencing platforms give you the option of uploading your own custom background. They say dress for the job you want, not the one you have, so now that your sofa is playing a much more public role in social signalling, why not extend that to your interior? You might live in a very respectable inner-city two bed, but that doesn’t mean Mies’ Barcelona Pavilion isn’t your more natural habitat.

Casa A12 by Lucas y Hernández-Gil Arquitectos in Madrid, Spain; lucasyhernandezgil.com. Photo: José Hevia
GreenMonster Lab by BANDe Architects in Beijing, China; bande.vip. Published in Frame 132 – Spaces. Photo: Weiqi Jin
Home office by Montana; montanafurniture.com. Photo: Yellows
SKP-S by Gentle Monster in Beijing, China; gentlemonster.com. Published in Frame 133 – Spaces. Photo: Courtesy of Gentle Monster
Furniture by Vincent van Duysen for Molteni&C in August Hotel Antwerp, Belgium; molteni.it, vincentvanduysen.com. Photo: Robert Rieger

To help, we’ve collected ten images sourced from stories, projects and products we’ve recently covered that we think will brighten any virtual meeting. They range from the sophisticated to the surreal, across cultures, codes and contexts, but all share our one key criteria: ambition in spatial design. Just right click, save as and upload to your app of choice.

This is not psychological advice, always consult your licensed healthcare providers, and never disregard or delay medical advice based on information provided in this blog or articles. Our goal is to educate, guide, consult, and empower clients regarding mindfulness, design with intention, and experience to create spaces that reflect an elevated psychology of wellbeing.