This quirky contraption is a non-perforating compass that does more than draw circles

Anyone who has worked with paper and pen will most likely have come across the venerable drawing tool that is the compass. For centuries, it has been the standard way to draw circles of any diameter, and for centuries, artists, designers, and engineers have been forced to deal with holes in their canvases and papers. Fortunately, that’s a thing of the past, and designers today have come up with multiple ways to draw circles without harming your paper, but that’s as far as many of these modern compasses go. At the end of the day, it’s yet another tool to add to your pouch or drawer, taking up space for something you might not use that often. In contrast, this tool looks a little bit complicated because it sort of is. Although you’ll probably use it to primarily draw circles and ellipses, this modular stationery can actually replace almost a dozen of your other tools as well.

Designer: Pik Shan Lee

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It’s difficult to blame product designers of the ancient past for how they made compasses that would become a staple of the trade. It wasn’t until recently that we’d have access to better materials, more accessible resources, and more unconventional design thinking to create a tool that doesn’t need to poke a hole in the middle of your material. These non-perforating compasses are starting to become more familiar with designers today, but Exlicon takes that idea to the next level and beyond perfect circles.


The basic concept behind Exlicon is the same. You have a disc that you set in the middle of the circle you want to draw, and then you swing a movable arm to draw that circle. In this tool’s case, however, the arm or arms or wings can attach in different ways to draw not just circles but also ellipses of different orientations. Going beyond round forms, however, the tool supports drawing other geometric shapes and can also measure things you’ve already drawn.

It mostly depends on how you use or connect the wings, with one serving as a typical ruler while another can measure angles like a protractor. Another wing has holes and cutouts to draw golden ratio triangles and curves. You can even draw hexagons and pentagrams without having to pull out a different tool from your arsenal. There are also add-on discs that can do spirals, mandalas, and perspective guides.

All in all, the Exlicon and its discs can replace about nine other drawing tools you might have to carry separately. With an all-steel build, the tool has its own distinct appeal and a promise of longevity that many plastic rules and curves can’t deliver. That said, the multi-shape design tool does look a bit daunting because of its many parts and complex use, but it is the price that must be paid for an all-in-one measuring solution to many of your drawing and needs.

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