I’ve come to realize that a ROM is made up of a million hard decisions and a sprinkle of fairy dust, and a bit of that fairy dust is the wallpaper that users see when they first boot the device.
To be frank, the default wallpaper is probably one of the more fluffy and inconsequential decisions amidst a mountain of technical challenges and UX land mines, but it’s one of those decisions that can make or break a user’s first impression of a device and it’s that bit of magic that makes a new ROM so special. For that bit of magic, Arz, our lead designer, went through 188 iterations of design before landing on the version we took as our default wallpaper for the first OxygenOS release. Pyra was simple, minimal, and true to the ROM’s stock Lollipop inspired roots. The color palette was vibrant and fresh, enough to lift your spirit but not too flamboyant that it would bother your eyes if you never switched wallpapers. To this day, it’s still one of my personal favorites.
For v2, we wanted to curate a set of truly beautiful and unique wallpapers that could bring some of that fairy dust to the lives of our users and help turn metal and plastic into something more personal and expressive. We had multiple designers from different nations contributing their creativity and artistry and we acquired some stunning photographs from an artist that many of you may be familiar with. And perhaps the most interesting story is how we got our default wallpaper this time, it came from a rather unexpected source.
Carl emailed me from India one day and said he met a Swedish artist named Hampus in Goa who wanted to make wallpapers for OnePlus. I paused for a second to digest how all those words even connected into a sentence then I thought, wow that’s so cool, we are inspiring (and being inspired) by people from all corners of the world. I checked out Hampus’ website and was immediately blown away by his collection. I’m not an art critic so I’m not going to attempt to articulate his style here (you should just see for yourself), but I could imagine how fantastical his work would look on the beautiful new display on the OnePlus 2.
I called Hampus up and carefully approached the topic of having him create wallpapers for us, I didn’t even know whether he wanted to sell us something or actually make something for us. Hampus, being totally open and direct, just said he was really excited about the idea of making something that every OnePlus user would see. I was delighted and told him I would love to include his work. Then he said he wanted to make the default wallpaper and I thought uh oh. Flashing back to the 188 iterations I put Arz through, I warned Hampus the default was going to be hard as it needed to be “just right” with no clear definition of what that means. It needed to be interesting, needed to be easy on the eye, needed to show off the new display, needed to mean something for Oxygen and OnePlus, needed to compliment the search bar and the icons, needed to have a bit of the wow factor, and it needed to evolve from what we had for the first release. Hampus was unfazed and didn’t seem to mind at all the time he would need to invest into doing this.
Two months later, we got ‘Hans’, our default wallpaper for the OnePlus 2 titled after Hampus’ nickname. I asked Hampus what his thought process was for designing ‘Hans’.
“I wanted to make something simple and not distracting to work well with the UI, but still at the same time look daring and inspirational. I worked with Arz to express the OnePlus feel. We wanted to somehow show the oxygen cycle in a visual and abstract way.”
In addition to ‘Hans’, Hampus also created a collection that you can enjoy right out of the box in OnePlus wallpapers. I asked him how he would describe this collection and his style in general.
“I’ve got too many dreams and things I want to create. Things I create might differ from each other a bit, but they all got something in common and that is the abstract, kind of surreal look. I love mixing bright, warm colors and adding small complex details. The work I’ve done for OnePlus might feel a bit psychedelic, but thats probably just an outcome of my creative mind.”
I was able to see the influence of India’s vibrant culture and colors in his work, I was curious as to how he came to live in Goa.
“I work together with my best friends! We run a small web agency that started out in Stockholm and later moved to India because we wanted to escape the Swedish winter. I wanted to move from Sweden since I was very young, maybe because I didn’t travel at all until I was about 20 years old. I love exploring and experiencing the world! India was actually something that just happened because of my co-worker Fabian who really loves India. I tried living in Goa for three months and fell in love with the place. The tech scene in India is growing and I can feel it. We run a small startup meetup community in Goa and with each meetup more people attend, it’s great to see!”
Hampus’ personality certainly shines through in his work and I can’t wait to share his work, along with the work of all the other amazing artists with you on the OnePlus 2.