Andrew Bradfield’s furniture creations benefit from premier craftsmanship and singular design.
Sometimes, art seems to have a will of its own. Stories abound of artistic pieces that seemingly leapt into being, where the artists themselves acted as mere channels for inspiration. For sculptors, one often hears that the materials themselves dictate the form; the finished piece was there all along within the driftwood or stone — it just needed the artist to shore away excess.
Andrew Bradfield is a largely self-taught sculptor and furniture-maker, whose designs reflect the graceful elegance of his source materials. He often uses native, Texas-born woods: live oak and pecan, which grow in abundance in his neighborhood in Ridglea Hills. Andrew also works in concrete, a versatile medium that practically everyone takes for granted.
From these humble ingredients — which literally surround us — Andrew creates sculptures, implements, and furniture that fully occupy their space. In other words, Bradfield’s creations have an organic wholeness, an inherent unity that becomes apparent through touch or sight; as if they’ve always existed, and Mr. Bradfield simply found them hidden within a block of wood.
Andrew’s artistic pursuits had humble beginnings. His first foray into craftsmanship came as an apprentice cabinet-maker, a role he stumbled into after selling a business and starting work on his own house.
“It began in 2002, and I worked for the carpenter full time. We did everything from demolition to dry-wall, just me, him, and his wife,” says Andrew. “That’s where I learned to use the tools responsibly. When we started the cabinetry, I realized how much I enjoyed the work.”
After the completion of his own home, Andrew continued with the contractor on a part-time basis. He attracted his own clients for custom cabinetry, and for ten years worked the trade of a craftsman. When Andrew began to dabble in custom furniture, his readily apparent skill drew commissions. Throughout 2016, the transition away from cabinet-making became complete, and Andrew now focuses exclusively on custom furniture.
“Furniture is what I enjoy more than anything,” says Andrew, “and the time you can take to really work on a piece. Utility comes first. For most of my designs, the thing that stands out is how simple they are. I like to think of them as strong, substantial, thicker than what people may be used to; sometimes when you pick up a piece of furniture, it just feels too light, and I want my pieces to have solidity.”
As for inspiration, Andrew turns to the work of others: George Nakashima, the noted woodworker and architect, is a big influence. Andrew also finds ideas in the pages of magazines like Architectural Digest, and in the world around him. Ideas get fleshed out on paper, and once Andrew has finished a preliminary design, he fashions a model.
“I’m horrible at drawing, but I’ll do some rough sketches to get an idea from my head onto paper,” says Andrew. “Then, to help the client know what to expect, I’ll make a small, Barbie-doll-sized model. You can pick it up, see the piece in three dimensions. It’ll have the same wood and finish as the completed product.”
HIs preferred materials are walnut and white oak, both of which have a density and grain that make them ideal for custom furniture. Andrew also works with wood harvested from around his neighborhood. As someone who respects his materials, Andrew is unwilling to let good wood go to waste, and will haul away felled trees, then chop them down to convert later into handmade items.
As Andrew’s reputation has spread, the demand for his custom furniture has grown. What began as requests from his wife’s salon clientele — Andrew created much of the furniture inside Lux Machine, which his wife owns — developed into a thriving, one-man business.
“As for selling pieces, my client list started from the salon,” says Andrew of Lux Machine. “As that’s grown, it’s gone from salon clients to friends, to friends of friends. I don’t know what I’d have done without that avenue. It would have remained a hobby, for sure.”
For anyone who appreciates well-made furniture, local craftsmanship, and artistic utility, this “hobby’s” evolution represents a fortuitous turn of events. To view Andrew’s work firsthand, purchase pieces, or place a commission, make sure to visit Lux Machine at 4816 Camp Bowie Boulevard for Fall Gallery Night on September 10th. There, Andrew will have his first public show alongside painter Sarah Gentry and jewelry-maker Jennifer Berry.