Flutter is an experimental app concept designed specifically for grieving adolescents. It uses music to help those experiencing the loss of a loved one – a period of time often resulting in high levels of isolation and incredibly difficult emotional problems – express themselves in a safe, positive environment, by creating sound artefacts that express how they feel at that moment. Following research into the changing forms of grief in the 21st century, showing that despite being at the forefront of rapid changes in communication technology, grieving adolescents require new, different forms of self-expression in order to connect meaningfully with others.

The role of music in Flutter is essential as an expressive ritual. In this instance, ritual is a therapeutic routine by which melodies are constructed that reflect the complex emotional states many grieving adolescents experience. With research in emotional resonance and music structure, Flutter offers an accurate and personal way to externalise mood. The final result is music that is not defined by sound, but by feeling.

The melodies are controlled through a formless interface, based upon the wind. As a visual metaphor, the wind represents a natural, dynamic process that is always present in our lives. For those who experience loss, grief acts in a similar way. It holds no judgement and changes over time and carries many interpretations.

Adolescents often cannot describe their grief, or even articulate with words how they feel. Especially at a young age, there are powerful emotions than can not be easily verbalised. The possibility of articulating such a unique, complicated event is often very low. As adolescents age, their ability express their emotions grows, but grief challenges this ability at a fundamental level.

Flutter offers a way to externalise, reflect and connect with grief.

Designed by Ivor Williams, Alex Rothera, Jacopo Atzori & Aaron Gillet.
In collaboration with Dr. Heather Servaty-Seib, Purdue University.
Musical composition by Jhon William Castaño Montoya.

In the press
Fast Co. Design
CBC's Spark

Nominated for the 2015 IxDA Awards