Living Ind


by Mary Tutwiler

Lafayette woodworker Chad Aldridge draws inspiration from the female form.

This is one chest of drawers you won't want to hide in your bedroom. Lafayette woodworker Chad Aldridge has chipped away the distinction between art and furniture, creating unusual pieces of functional sculpture that beg to be used. His curvy feminine chest was inspired by 1940s pop culture pin-ups ' it's the Betty Grable of storage. The body of the chest is framed in African bubinga wood, which provides a ruby-colored contrast to the ebonized mahogany drawers. Six stacked drawers are designed to hold small treasures, anything from earrings to lingerie. The main "carcass," as Aldridge calls it, is welded steel. A single leg stands on a mahogany base that swirls in waves like the hem of a skirt in motion.

Aldridge grew up in New Iberia and got his undergraduate degree from USL in sculpture; his graduate work at the University of Massachusetts hammered out a shift to furniture. In Aldridge's case, function follows form in the highly animated benches, chairs and chests that look like they are ready to get up and walk out of the room. He returned to Acadiana last year, where he runs the metal and woodworking shop at UL and teaches students how to handle the power tools of his trade. Welding, he says is a special love. Clean, seamless welds are a trademark of Aldridge's work, as are the subtle pairings of exotic woods.

Aldridge is responsible for the distinctive benches at Tsunami on Jefferson Street. He shows his work at Sans Souci Fine Craft Gallery in downtown Lafayette but says his main m├ętier is commissions.

To see examples of Chad Aldridge's work, call Sans Souci at 266-7999 or email Aldridge at [email protected].