What inspires you?
It is a simple, yet daunting, question that can feel charged with hidden implication. It pressures for a response that is drenched in some profound meaning. It requests a type of ‘inspiration’ validated through beauty that is understood by the masses.
However, for Noren’s debut collection, the answer to this question is simple. A staple.
Noren’s approach entails inspiration that lacks overthinking and occurs when unnecessary noise is tuned out. The artistry behind Noren is a product of curiosity, spontaneity, and a willingness to experience inspiration everywhere.
Keith, founder and designer, explains that Noren exists at a crossroads between functionality and aesthetic design. It is the ergonomics of cutlery, the austerity of architecture, and the manufacturing excellence of watches that lie at the heart of this belief.
Noren seeks to challenge how we experience jewelry, which is often through a purely aesthetic lens that values opulence and status. Being maker, Keith certainly appreciate the details and the level of skill required to make the finest and most ornate pieces of jewelry. But it’s not for him.
Keith designs jewelry that is modern, minimal and with purpose. With this philosophy, the simpler something looks, the more important the smallest details become.
This idea of power in simplicity is explored through Noren’s debut collection, inspired by the function of a staple. Through looking for appreciation in something as simple and ubiquitous as an office staple, this collection epitomizes the adage that form should follow function.
The concept was to join metal surfaces mechanically without the use of solder. Keith began by looking through books of furniture design and was fascinated by the construction of the Siesta chair by Ingmar Relling. A cord is passed through a plywood frame and threaded through to a fabric backrest. These functional details are left exposed and double as a design element of the chair. Appreciating the visual impact of this piece, Keith thought of how Noren could do something similar with jewelry. Viewing the parallels, both functionally and aesthetically, with how a staple would hold paper together, he set out to apply it in Noren’s first collection.
Though the staple design itself is straight forward, the physical execution required over 20 iterations before a final product was reached. In gaining an in-depth understanding of the various methods and processes of making jewelry, Keith always try to use the best suited methods for each component part.
For instance, when making the slots for the staples in the band, one of the main goals is repeatability. Casting is the most common method for production pieces due to its relative ease and low cost. However, casted parts have lower metal density and lack the underlying grain structure that the same parts made from forging and forming would benefit from.
He opted instead to roll solid bars of precious metal and make the bands with traditional forming techniques. To cut the slots, traditional methods would call for the use of jewellers saws to pierce out the shape. Even the most skilled goldsmith cannot cut the slot with the precision required for the design. Rather, they used a laser cutter to produce consistent and perfectly sized slots for the stapes to be fitted into.
This highlights one of many examples of Noren’s attention to craftsmanship, which is an ongoing journey. Keith describes how we all start knowing nothing. It is through passion, knowledge, and perseverance that we improve and grow into craftsmen in our own right.
Despite a long family history in goldsmithing and years of experience in the field, Keith remains humbled by a quote from Vince Lombardi. “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.” This marks the beginning of Noren’s chase to perfection; modern simplicity made to last, shaped by traditional craftsmanship.