Skip to main content


David Harrigan heads up visual content in Nokia’s Brand Experience Design team, which is responsible for, among other things, the wallpaper that comes installed on a new Nokia handset.

You might have thought that this isn’t such a big job. Find some pictures of nice sunsets and the job’s done, right?

Wrong. Choosing wallpapers for a device is as serious a design job as deciding its shape or colour.

“There needs to be a sense of visual cadence across everything,” says David.

“The images need to be distinctively a part of the device. Distinctively Nokia.”

This hasn’t historically been the case. Nokia used to provision images at a per-device level in some cases. Now, in the same way the shape and colour palette of our phones is becoming instantly recognisable, so will be the extra elements, like wallpaper, that make up the whole.

Out of box

Of course, once the phone has come into its owner’s possession, the rules change. “Most people will use a picture of their partner or family as their wallpaper,” David admits.

However, this doesn’t alter the need to offer a coherent set of built-in images that are recognisably Nokia. “It’s about the ‘out-of-box experience,” says David. “People can see that that thought and care has been put into every element on the phone.”

Going forward, creating new wallpaper offers an opportunity for engagement with a broader artistic community. David  is planning to commission new wallpapers from a wider range of sources, including young, emerging artists and photographers.

But there’s no chance that Nokia will be making this a free-for-all. “The artists need to be commissioned carefully and understand what fits and what doesn’t. Imagery is extremely emotive and has to fulfil a wide range of requirements. It’s right that we should really, really care about this.”