Our Small Wonders series would not be complete without including jewellery by Ted Noten, one of the most influential jewellery designers working in the Netherlands today. Noten’s concept-driven jewellery projects last year earned him the Dutch Artist of the Year award. His work is deliberately provocative and often blurs the borders between jewellery, art and design.
As Noten is reknowned for his use of irony, our featured work is Evening Butterfly, an 18-carat gold ‘collector’s edition’ of Noten’s Miss Piggy ring, which is mass-produced in plastic using 3D-printing technologies.
The price of the limited edition Evening Butterfly ring is determined by the daily price of gold – the ‘value’ effectively dictated by the market and the desirability of the material. The perceived ‘value’ of jewellery is a recurring theme in Noten’s work.
Another underlying theme of his work is to challenge convention.
I make jewellery that takes some time getting used to. When you wear it, you make yourself vulnerable as it makes such a striking statement. I speak out through my jewellery and objects. I comment upon jewellery as a phenomenon, upon the industry or, like any artist, upon humanity. Ted Noten
Ted Noten is best known for suspending an array of weird and wonderful objects in solid acrylic – everything from precious gems and jewellery, to real guns, cigarettes and sewing kits. Like insects preserved in amber, these objects of desire, nostalgia or emotion are captured on display and can no longer play their roles in a decorative or functional way.
Noten uses these works to provide a wry commentary on contemporary life and the world as he sees it.
They were instigated in 1995, when Noten was asked to contribute to a design project based on the pearl necklace; an item he regards as the “most boring, bourgeois icon in the whole history of jewellery”.
As a rebellious retort, Noten created Turbo Princess, an acrylic necklace enshrining a mouse found dead on his studio floor and adorned with a miniature pearl necklace. Like several other Noten ‘signatures’, the iconic Princess mouse has become a recurring theme in his work.
Lady K is a significant, if somewhat misunderstood, chapter in this series. Created in a limited edition of seven, the Lady K handbags feature real hand-guns.
But Noten’s intention is not to glamourise guns – he bought them on the streets in his neighbourhood in an effort to reduce gun crime. Now gold-plated and encased in acrylic, the lethal weapons are disabled and impotent, with their fired bullets frozen in time.
Noten also likes to challenge our perceptions of traditional jewellery making and often blurs the borders between art and jewellery. In a recent work, 7 Necessities, he causes confusion by mixing precious and cheap materials, and hand-finishing machine-made pieces to a high level of craftsmanship.
According to Noten, 7 Necessities is a collection of essential items women might need in an imagined emergency. The intriguing objects are ‘crafted’ on a computer, then 3D-printed in nylon and hand-detailed with traditional materials, such as precious gems, silver and gold.
Noten has also undertaken a number of interesting projects which explore the relationships associated to jewellery. One of the best known is Chew Your Own Brooch, which was devised to connect the designer with the wearer by drawing them together in the design process.
This playful project was enthusiastically received by visitors to the Booijmans van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam, where around 800 adults and children were presented with chewing gum and asked to ‘chew their own brooch’. The best ‘mouth-made sculptures’ were then cast in gold. As an on-going work, people could purchase Chew your own Brooch kits and have their wearable work of art created by Atelier Ted Noten via post. This work has recently featured in the acclaimed exhibition, ‘Unexpected Pleasures – the Art and Design of Contemporary Jewellery’, a touring show curated by the Design Museum, London.
In recent years, Ted Noten’s design company Atelier Ted Noten, or ATN, has extended its jewellery creations towards design projects, installations and commissions for both private collectors, cultural organisations and art institutions.
About Ted Noten
Dutch-born Ted Noten trained as a jewellery designer at the Art Academy in Maastricht and at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. His design studio, Atelier Ted Noten (ATN), is based in Amsterdam. Noten has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions, and has won a number of awards including Dutch Artist of the Year. His work is represented internationally by a wide range of galleries and museum collections.
This is just an introduction to the work of Ted Noten. For more information, we recommend a visit to the Atelier Ted Noten website >
- Ted Noten portrait: Hans de Bruijn
- Chew Your Own Brooch: Eleni Roumpou
- All other images: Atelier Ted Noten
- On 27th March 2013