To expose the top layer of the wood to flames is an ancient technique for protecting wood against insect, fungus, rot damage and (paradoxically) make it more resistant to fire. In Norway, this technique is mainly used for exterior use, like paneling, fences and quay piles. The technique is also known in Japan where it goes under the name of Shou Sugi Ban and Yakisugi.
I fetched interest for carbonized wood some years ago, after a meeting with the wood suppliers at "Svenneby Sag". Ole Svenneby told me about their new investment and how this is environmentally friendly compared to other types of wood treatments, as it does not require anything other than fire and water. I was totally fascinated by the beautiful texture of the burned wood and dreamed of using it in the interior, something Ole head would not recommend.
For external use rain and wind will in a relatively short time wash away the soot layer and make sure the tree gets a little brighter blackish color with time. Inside, one can not just live with the natural wear process and have to do some measures to prevent smut.
I began searching for documentation of use and others experiences with carbonized wood. There are particularly three designers who blew me away, convincing me that i had to do this project.
1: Andrianna Shamaris "Tripple Burned" , where she keeps the organic shapes of her recycled teak furniture, but burns it three times in order to get that deep dark wonderful look.
2: Maarten Baas "Smoked Chair" project is seductive. In this project the designer carbonized chairs to explore how flames can provide familiar objects a new character.
3: Kaspar Hamacher, "Ausgebrannt" (burned). In this project the designer uses the flames as a tool for hollowing out the wood. The result is organic and amazing.
Picutres are borrowed from the artists homepages. (Links on photos).
Having tested and observed the burned wood over time we took a deep breath and started making beds, doors and a sofa in carbonized wood in our own home.
You can burn all the wood that is untreated, but the wood's hardness and properties will obviously affect the performance and durability. How long you expose the wood to the flames also has consequences for the result. The coal-black cracked surface on our furniture indicates that the tree is burned pretty hard. We did not want to brush of that beautiful coal-black expression and therefore ended up with several coats varnish.
We are so pleased with the result and I look forward to use our newly gained knowledge on new projects in the future.