Connecting the 9 dimensions through Yggdrasil
The brief for this — strictly conceptual — project was to come up with a concept and design for a paranormal app within 10 weeks. Even though it's paranormal, the app has to be credible. This means that it should serve a realistic purpose and that the users should be able to use it without having to hocus pocus their way around it.
I really loved this brief. I am not a firm believer of the paranormal and my knowledge of it is very limited, but I really am very fascinated with this world. Luckily for me, my interest made it easier to come up with a concept. This exercise has been given for many years in my curriculum and I wanted to do something different than the usual ‘weather prediction by cats or food’ kind of thing, so that’s why I went to the library.
I browsed my way through the library and found myself stuck at the mythology section. I couldn’t immediately find something, and I was browsing there for a couple of hours, so I decided to take some (Norse and Egyptian) mythology books home and sleep on it.
But suddenly, this memory of a movie that I watched when I was a kid came back to me. It was Hellboy, written by Guillermo del Toro. I remembered them talking about this mythical tree which — back then — I was very impressed with. So I watched it again and decided to do some more research Norse Mythology and the tree itself, Yggdrasil.
I was amazed by how interesting their mythology was, but also saddened how I couldn’t figure out how to turn it into an app. Then again, I didn’t want to throw all of my research away so I looked back at some floaty stuff (mediation, astral projection and sleep paralysis), which I did my High School Thesis Paper on. Which you can read here (Dutch).
These elements suddenly came together like the pieces of a puzzle.
Runes, Midgard and a silver string
Next up was some more research on the subjects. I reread my high school thesis and did literature studies on the tree of life, Yggdrasil and its nine worlds (Midgard, Asgard, ...), which you can find here (it’s in Dutch). To summarise it in two words: very interesting.
There was also some research needed on the user, as I didn’t know what people who meditate would expect from the app. Also, Drasil needed to attract people who are into astral projection and meditating but don’t know how to do it.
Drasil is an app that helps people astral project (or meditate) to one of the 9 dimensions of the tree of life, Yggdrasil. Due to the multiple projection methods and various skill levels of projections, you get a personalised plan that fits your needs. If one method doesn't fit, just choose another and off you go. Due to the app’s connection with Yggdrasil, you can travel to one of the accessible dimensions with your astral body. The app also comes with some quick meditating options for when you're stressed out and in a rush, so you can take a deep breath and conquer the world again.
Other features of the app include: meditation exercises (iPhone and Apple Watch included), an alarm to wake you up from your travels and a diary to note your fun memories in.
Bumps in the road
The ultimate goal of the app is to guide you in astral projecting and to give you information about possible worlds to travel to. But the user has to be relaxed and in a meditative state of mind, so the interface has to be clean and immersive. There are some projection trainings added to the app, but whenever it comes to actual travelling and projecting to another world, you’ll have to do it yourself. This was the most difficult part of designing the app, because it could not distract the user from projecting.
This is the reason why I chose a tablet interface. Tablets are currently both a lean-forward and lean-back experience, which makes it perfect for meditational purposes.
As previously mentioned, the user gets a personalised plan. This is also for their own safety ‘as the travelling is real’. If you’re a beginner, the app won’t allow you to go to Helheim because it’s basically hell. The more experienced you get, the more worlds open up for you and the more you can explore.
With the concept fully developed, I started writing it out on paper with all of its features, so that I knew what I was getting myself into. I made a flowchart out of it, so that the flows from screen to screen would be clear and user friendly. And after that I started wireframing, but with only 7 more weeks on the clock and 2 other equally important and big projects running. I decided to start designing as soon as possible, because I knew that the illustrations would take up a lot of work.
As for the design I was really inspired by Marina Muun’s work, which is featured here above. It gave me a surreal Scandinavian vibe, and that’s what I was aiming for. I wanted this vibe to reflect in typography as well and that’s when I found ‘YoungSerif’, a very quirky an special serif. It also supported the Old Norse letters which was very important to me (for example: Miðgarðr, Ásgarðr, Niðavellir)
Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to user test this, but that’s fine since it’s strictly conceptual and not very realistic to actually use as an app :-)
You can try out a simple prototype here