A Japanese jewel, Shou sugi ban is the art of firing wood, primarily Japanese cedar creating an environmentally protected cladding lasting upwards to 120 years.
Preserving wood by charring it this traditional Japanese practice has been around since the 18th century and has recently made a comeback. The wood is burned on the surface only, charred to the degree of colour you desire, and then finished with an oil. The result is a pest, rot and fire resistant timber, environmentally friendly and wonderfully elegant.
Traditionally made with Japanese cedar, here in NZ we are lucky enough to have a company The Blackwood project a timber finishing company specialising in the traditional practice of wood charring Yakisugi.
Learning from the masters in Japan, and as timber professionals themselves, they now service clients throughout New Zealand with some examples of their work, and also what can be achieved below.
You can also request samples of their range, here.
My pick to pair with Shou sugi ban from the Tamaasa range is the latest release mural - Garden of Eden. Placed in a bathroom with metal accented fittings, or black iron I can just imagine soaking in a hot warm bath with the mural sitting centre stage behind the bath. It is the perfect feminine touch against the masculine cedar, and I of course will be using the cedar either as kitchen cabinetry, or a feature wall in my own home.. ideally both.
As an additional touch cedar wood outside could accompany this feature perfectly, with wood, or stark white interiors leaving the space completely open to decorate as you wish like a blank canvas.
My artist influence for Shou sugi ban, is a clear front runner in Franz Kline.
Ironically with my love of bright hues, I have an equal obsession with the black backdrops they sit amongst, so there is no surprise the bold minimal abstracts of Franz Kline are exquisite to me.
Starting out as a realist, Kline's work eventually moved onto Abstract Expressionism where he evoked large scale black and white paintings.
Receiving international recognition his work then went on to influence the minimalist era.
While many artworks would sit perfectly in the contemporary space of Shou Sugi ban, Kline's to me most represents the classic clean lines which are simple and calm yet commanding a bold entrance much the same as the traditional cedar charring of Shou sugi ban.
Pairing with metal, copper or black iron fittings, Shou sugi ban can take on the minimalist environment such as one of Kline‘s paintings with white, crisp interiors, large scale potted plants indoors and outdoors, or contemporary grasses and neutral toi toi.
Take a look at some of Kline work and familiarise yourself with his clean lines. The best art evokes feeling and for me the feeling I get from his work is uncluttered, centered and aware.
Franz Kline, CARDINAL
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