This year, there is a bevy of new, interesting design trends. Almost all of these trends have three things in common: biophilia, sustainability, and authenticity. These goals are what underlie some of the most popular design trends today, from reclaimed wood to net-zero energy usage.
Architects and designers are looking for new and innovative ways to create spaces that are healthier for humans and better for the environment. They are using design to intentionally create experiences. Some trends borrow on past artisanal methods that hearken back to another time.
One captivating design trend is an increased interest in shou sugi ban, a traditional Japanese technique of preserving wood by charring it. The resulting wood is a deep obsidian that’s strikingly rich, and it’s become more common in all kinds of commercial settings. As trendy as it may be right now, shou sugi ban is much more than just a design trend. I’d like to show you how an understanding of traditional shou sugi ban is paving the way for a new era of sustainability.
How Shou Sugi Ban Wood is Made
From Architectural Digest: Shou sugi ban involved charring wood with flame and then coating the wood to preserve it
The practice of shou sugi ban dates back to the 18th century, although some more primitive examples of the technique have been used since at least 700 AD. At its core, shou sugi ban is a fire-based wood preservation method that was used for exterior siding. Traditionally, it’s only used with Japanese cedar, which reacts to the fire in a unique way to create the trademark charcoal look.
First, pieces of Japanese cedar are handpicked to ensure the resulting wood is both beautiful and high quality. Next, the wood is burned, blackening the wood itself and creating a layer of char. Traditionally, the Japanese cedar planks were bundled into triangular tubes to create a sort of chimney. The interior was lit for an intense exposure to fire and heat. After burning, the char is brushed off and the wood is oiled. The brushing method determines the final look. Today, many try to create shou sugi ban utilizing blow torches and other species of wood. If used properly, the shou sugi ban technique can preserve wood for years, which means little to no maintenance is required. If traditional methods and wood species are not utilized there can be issues with finish longevity and stability.
The process itself provides an insight into the popularity of shou sugi ban. Builders are constantly seeking out materials and methods of creating built environments that last. Having to renovate or update a space every few years is costly and consumes lots of energy. It’s much better for the environment (and design budgets) to develop spaces that are resilient. Since traditional shou sugi ban is durable and requires very little upkeep, it’s a good choice for architects and designers who prioritize lasting and durable siding materials.
That said, while shou sugi ban produces some beautifully unique and memorable woods, depending on the wood and process used, it may not be the most sustainable process. In practice, a deep burn must be achieved or the char on the wood can fall or flake off, dirtying floors or getting onto occupants’ clothing. Loss of the top charred layer not only can create a mess and diminish the look but with it go the functional benefits of shou sugi ban; the pest, fire and weatherproof properties. In an indoor environment, there are also some air quality concerns to consider. Thankfully, there is a convenient and elegant solution to these problems, allowing you to get the appealing looks of shou sugi ban with none of the disadvantages.
Faux Sugi Ban®: A Biophilic, Sustainable Alternative
Enter Faux Sugi Ban®, a healthier and more sustainable alternative to traditional shou sugi ban. This product line of reclaimed woods has been designed to look like shou sugi ban. Best of all, Faux Sugi Ban delivers on many levels with none of the risks or consequences that come with charring wood. It’s completely biophilic, sustainable and provides an authentic shou sugi ban look. There’s no char to flake off to make a mess, eliminating any air cleanliness concerns. Instead, our finish team has created the unique look using reclaimed wood to provide the charred, detailed look you’d expect from shou sugi ban.
Faux Sugi Ban has been carefully developed for interior and exterior use to mirror many of the benefits of shou sugi ban while keeping sustainability and biophilia in mind. We first select and source the best-reclaimed woods that will provide the shou sugi ban Gendai look, or burned and brushed once. Utilizing reclaimed wood in itself is a sustainable process. The ways in which we source reclaimed wood consume far less energy than traditional sourcing methods. Additionally, all of our woods used for Faux Sugi Ban are FSC-certified recycled.
Next, we use eco-friendly finishes to create a charred appearance on the surface of the wood. Since no flame is used, Faux Sugi Ban bears none of the health risks that are common with shou sugi ban wood. The final product is durable, attractive wood that brings the timeless look of shou sugi ban to contemporary commercial buildings.
How Faux Sugi Ban Benefits Commercial Spaces
The inspired aesthetic of shou sugi ban is perfect for biophilic design applications. Authentic shou sugi ban is biophilic on its own, but we find that using reclaimed wood as the base for Faux Sugi Ban makes the end product even more beneficial. Reclaimed wood is one of the best biophilic building materials, and it boasts additional advantages that don’t come with shou sugi ban.
From The Wooden Houses: The look of shou sugi ban meshes perfectly with contemporary building design
First and foremost, Faux Sugi Ban is a safe way of incorporating sustainability into building design while delivering an authentic, artisanal look. Specifying reclaimed wood is a choice for reusing current resources, reducing energy consumption and preventing living trees from being unnecessarily cut down.
Ultimately, shou sugi ban’s appearance on the scene points to a love of craftsmanship and need for materials and practices that stand the test of time. Sustainability is of utmost importance in all areas of architecture and design nowadays. More builders are aiming to reduce their energy footprints and improve their impact on the environment while simultaneously implementing the cutting edge of design trends. Faux Sugi Ban is our effort to harmonize the latest trends with groundbreaking sustainable design. With a stunning appearance and a conscious heart, Faux Sugi Ban proves that almost any design trend can become sustainable with just a little work.