Why We Love the Charred Wood Trend
This ancient Japanese tradition has captured the hearts of designers and we’ve got the reasons why.
Charred wood has hit the market and quickly turned into one of the hottest (pun intended) home décor trends—it’s everywhere from wood panelling (like the Vernon house in our June 2015 issue, seen here) to household accessories like Barter’s Revolve stools (see below). We’ve tapped in with a few experts to get the scoop on why this craze is so popular and what they love about it.
“Every piece is unique.”
Kenny Torrance, Owner and Founder of Barter Design.
“The way fire works with wood—it’s just natural beauty,” says Torrance. And charring actually hides the imperfections in materials. According to the Barter Design founder, if there are any cracks or subtle blemishes made by a saw, the second fire hits it, it immediately brings the texture back to nature. For Torrance, there is depth and richness to the wood because charring shows rebirth, rejuvenation and cycles. Barter wanted to understand the process of nature and evoke that in its products (think sun-bleached as well as blackened by fire) and for its first line of pieces Barter decided to focus the progression of charring. “We’ve produced it because we believe in it and other people working with charred have a similar love once they’ve seen it. Every piece is unique.” Torrance says the best way to showcase these pieces is to balance it with a lot of natural light and let it speak on it’s own and show off the natural textures.
1. Barter’s Charred Cedar Wood Disc ($600) at Provide shows off the beauty of the wood lines under the classic charcoal finish. providehome.com
2. The Charred Revolve Pillar ($1400), also from Barter, is the perfect addition of texture to any living room. providehome.com
“It’s a natural process.”
Gaile Guevara, Creative Director and Lead Associate at Gaile Guevara Interior Design and Creative.
According to Guevara, the Pacific Northwest coastal environment is very wet and has created a strong trend in outdoor finishes. Charring has become a finish that is considered a luxury because it is more labour intensive, but it lasts a long time. “Unless you take care of wood it can crack or the wear and tear starts to show. With the char finish it’s more subtle—it goes grey— it’s a tone of black.” Designers like it because of the stain factor—it acts like makeup on the outside of wood. “I enjoy it because it’s a natural process which means it’s not applying a massive finish,” says Guevara. “It’s an actual process that brings out the character of wood.”
1. The grains in the wood of CB2’s Charred Wall Mirror ($249) add a layer of character to the piece. cb2.com
2. Beauty and elegance go hand in hand with the Smoke Dining Chair (inquire for pricing) from Moooi, where the charcoal finish suits the classic black leather. moooi.com
3. Anthropologie shows off the rugged appeal of blackened wood with their Charred Wood Bookends ($384), the perfect addition to any shelving unit. anthropologie.com
“It can add balance.”
Martha Sturdy, Founder of Martha Sturdy
“It’s a very old cultural style in Japan,” says Sturdy. Charring the wood protects the exterior from the environment, bugs, and acts as a seal. “So as the environment and pollution settles on it, it will get a darker colour.” Many products feel too manufactured, but charring gives off earthy textures says the West Coast artist and designer. Sturdy recommends mixing modern pieces with burned cedar sculptures as it can add balance and make a person relax. “The patina that they get just from the environment is phenomenal. Very earthy and sophisticated in it’s own way.”
The 1) Charred Wood Coffee Table (price upon request) and 2) 12 Foot Bench ($10,050) from Martha Sturdy suit any space with their natural black finish and chic design. marthasturdy.com
“It’s a piece of art.”
Nicole Sjöstedt, Fashion and Lifestyle Stylist
“People still love wood,” says Sjöstedt. “It’s a natural material; we just want it done in a new light.” When you char wood it takes on a whole new texture of the grain, explains the stylist; it tells a new story. It has practical and durable properties that enhance its resistance to fire, rotting, and pests. According to Sjöstedt, wood brings warmth and texture into a home, and she likes to use it because it’s natural and environmentally friendly. “If you have a love for wood, and you don’t want to get rid of wood, but keep it fresh, this is a nice way to bring it in.” A side table or seat made from charred wood is a great addition to a space, especially with the smoky black-grey look, she says. “It’s a piece of art itself because it is so intricately detailed when it’s burned.”
1. From the ashes of a warehouse fire, Union Wood & Supply Company’s Char Table (inquire for pricing) shows the industrial-chic side of this trend. unionwoodco.com
2. Crate & Barrel’s Teton Charred Black Solid Wood Accent Table ($599) works well on it’s own or paired with more modern pieces. crateandbarrel.com