Visualingual: Putting the Fun in Function

The Seed Bomb might be the greatest thing to come from Iceland since Björk. OK, it really comes from Cincinnati, but as creator Maya Drozdz explains, it was the meltdown of Iceland’s economy in 2008 that gave it birth.

Drozdz had recently left a “soul-sucking” corporate job. Suddenly, Iceland’s economy imploded, and the rest of the world followed.

“All of a sudden the job opportunities I had been scoffing at weren’t even there anymore,” said the Polish-born graphic designer. “I needed some sort of creative outlet so I didn’t feel like a total loser.”

“I started making things in small batches. Having products to talk about made it easier to go out and talk to people. It wasn’t just me and my resume. After a while, it was, ‘I’m not looking for a job anymore – I’ve created one.’ ” She created one for Michael Stout, as well. Stout – also a graphic designer – began helping her part-time, then full-time.

Drozdz and Stout have a utilitarian bent. They love designing and making things that will be used, not just looked at.

“We’ve always been interested in objects that are active, that are tools,” Drozdz said. “We always try to make it something that has more meaning than design being used to window-dress a static object.” She believes that the Midwest offers fertile ground for that approach.

“In the Midwest, there’s a historic manufacturing base — old infrastructure and architecture,” Drozdz said. “When you combine that with a low cost of living, I think it really encourages people to be more hand-on entrepreneurs, and to take a chance on manufacturing something by themselves.”

Their company, Visualingual, offers about 25 products — all of them whimsical, useful and appealingly designed. Their biggest seller is the Seed Bomb, a slingshot that lets the user scatter pellets of flowers, herbs, salad greens and other treats.

“It has a hippy-dippy aspect to it,” Drozdz said of the Seed Bomb. “It empowers people to beautify their environment. And then they’re not left with something gathering dust on the shelves — they’re left with these beautiful flowers.”