The design team at Makers Cabinet has brought together a love of engineering, drawing and photography (after a fashion) to create one of the most elegant objects of the year. Dubbed "Iris," this ingenious compass is part objet d'art, part exercise in engineering beauty, and part Spirograph for grown-ups.
The Iris, which is currently the subject of a crowdfunding campaign, is set to be a must-have desk object for engineers and design buffs. Sure it's a tool, but it's also meant to be fun. Fun to hold, fun to look at and fun to use. The mechanism at the core of the tool is, as the name suggests, an iris, inspired by the elegance and reliability of the apertures within camera lenses.
The idea was born out of conversations the team had with its Kickstarter community not long after the company's successful crowdfunding campaign for the equally beautiful Høvel pencil sharpener that launched in 2017. One thread centered around the problems with traditional pencil-and-pointy-bit compasses. It was noted that they were difficult to use, unreliable, short-lived, useless without a ruler, and were restricted to only those drawing implements which would fit in the clamp. And then there are hole's left in the page – something we all remember from our school days.
And so the design team went to work. Literally "to the drawing board" with – one would imagine – a traditional compass. Oh the elegant irony.
"As amateur photographers, we noticed that camera apertures were reliable mechanisms and were surprised that they had not yet been developed for other purposes," says Makers Cabinet co-founder Ben Weininger. "In response to this observation, we designed an instrument that brings the quality of the camera aperture to your desk."
The rings of the Iris are machined from solid brass, while the leaves of the inner-iris (20 in total) are stamped from carefully selected stainless spring steel. Diameter measurements are laser-etched onto the brass ring at one-millimeter intervals. In a nod to the camera lenses that inspired the design, the position along the scale is indicated with a red dot. Stability on the drawing surface has also been addressed with a fine rubber footprint to ensure accuracy.
The Iris comes with a wooden base to support and display the device on your desk. But this is not just a stand. The Makers Cabinet philosophy dictates that everything needs to do a job, and sometimes more than one, so the base also functions as a tool for locating the center-point of your circle. Simply place the base on its side within the outer-ring of the Iris, and there's your center.
"We aim to inspire everybody that uses the Iris with a sense of satisfaction," says Weininger."It's mesmerizing mechanism sparks delight in everyone that sees it open and close. We believe that the Iris helps rejuvenate the flow of creativity at moments of mental block."
The three founders of the business met whilst studying at Central Saint Martins art school, in London, and set-up shop together in 2017. Originally known as "Brahman Design" the company rebranded itself earlier this year as "Makers Cabinet" in the hope this would more accurately reflect the nature and ethos of the team, as well as upscale the brand positioning. Company co-founder and Head of Design, Odin Ardagh, was awarded a Star Choice in Stationery Matters' Thirty under Thirty award, while Makers Cabinet's first product, Høvel, won Best Desk Accessory.
The team launched the Kickstarter campaign for Iris yesterday, and are already over halfway towards the £25,000 (US$32,700) goal. Pledges for the Iris drawing compass and base start at £45 (US$59), representing a 50 percent saving on the estimated retail price of £90 (US$118). If all goes to plan, shipping will begin in November.
Check out the team's pitch video below.
Source: Makers Cabinet
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