Ted Noten’s designs act as a critique on contemporary life and on the history of jewellery, as well as on the wider context of product design. Interestingly, his work equally relates to architecture. The underlying, recurring, theme of his work is to challenge convention and processes of habituation, the familiar and the unusual.
His oeuvre gains in depth from his idiosyncratic response to the apparent familiarity of our daily surroundings, whether this be a market street in Amsterdam, the explosion of building construction in Shanghai, or a gang of road sweepers at work in a provincial town in Russia. By lifting symbols from their everyday surroundings and placing them in a new context, he doesn’t so much query the symbol itself as our perception of it. Ted Noten looks for fixed meanings in the banal and the cultivated. He debunks their essence, then reinvents them back into reality. In affecting and infecting symbolic values he actually reveals their unmistakable intangibility.
Many of his most recent works are parts of larger projects in which Noten investigates familiar themes like violence, mortality, greed, love and ageing. But he also turned his attention to the means of production that are not only influencing contemporary notions of mass production, but also the domain of craftsmanship. The attempt to include reproductions (and even reproductions of reproductions) into his body of work seems to point to a new direction in his designs, and in contemporary culture as a whole.
Next to his design work Noten teaches and lectures all over the world.