July 13, 2023

From Shou Sugi Ban to Style-Forward Design: A Look at Carbonized Wood for Restaurant Furniture

Car­bonized wood is craft­ed with an inno­v­a­tive tech­nique steeped in his­to­ry, one that imbues the mate­r­i­al with a unique aes­thet­ic and a sto­ry as com­pelling as its look. With roots that span cen­turies, car­bonized wood has evolved from a prac­ti­cal pro­tec­tive method to a stun­ning design state­ment. 

Let’s delve into the his­to­ry of this intrigu­ing process and how we’ve incor­po­rat­ed it into our designs to offer you a cap­ti­vat­ing blend of tra­di­tion and trend.

Tracing the History of Carbonized Wood

Dat­ing back to 18th-cen­tu­ry Japan, the tra­di­tion of car­boniz­ing wood was intro­duced to weath­er­proof tim­ber against insects, decay, and fire. Dur­ing that time, it was named “shou sugi ban,” which trans­lates to “burnt cedar board.” This cen­turies-old tech­nique involved a process of skill­ful­ly char­ring the wood sur­face, fol­lowed by cool­ing and cleans­ing it, there­by cre­at­ing a robust car­bon coat for pro­tec­tion.

Shou sugi ban was orig­i­nal­ly con­cep­tu­al­ized in the west­ern realms of Japan where wood­en hous­es dom­i­nat­ed the land­scape, and evolved as a tech­nique to for­ti­fy wood against extreme cli­mat­ic con­di­tions and humid­i­ty. Over time, this inge­nious tech­nique expand­ed through­out Japan, becom­ing a wide­ly used method in the con­struc­tion of tem­ples, shrines, and var­i­ous oth­er struc­tures.

Fast for­ward to present day and you’ll find car­bonized wood mak­ing a grand state­ment in the world of inte­ri­or design, par­tic­u­lar­ly as a mate­r­i­al of choice for high-end, cus­tom fur­ni­ture. From rus­tic charm to ultra-mod­ern ele­gance, it effort­less­ly com­ple­ments a spec­trum of design aes­thet­ics, mak­ing it a pop­u­lar selec­tion.

Carbonized Wood at Old Dominion Furniture Co.

Our inter­est in car­bonized wood was sparked in 2013, when a cus­tomer expressed a desire for sol­id wood table tops fea­tur­ing a unique­ly “charred” look. After a close inspec­tion of the cus­tomer’s inspi­ra­tion image, our team con­clud­ed that the table top appeared to be burnt to achieve this dis­tinc­tive look. Intrigued by its ver­sa­til­i­ty and visu­al appeal, our pro­duc­tion teams dove into recre­at­ing the inspi­ra­tion in an authen­tic Old Domin­ion fash­ion.

Deter­mined to uphold our rep­u­ta­tion for high stan­dards and qual­i­ty, we began a long jour­ney of research and devel­op­ment, fol­lowed by mul­ti­ple rounds of exper­i­men­ta­tion. After some time, we proud­ly unveiled this new tech­nique, lead­ing to the cre­ation of our sig­na­ture car­bonized oak table tops.

Today, our car­boniza­tion process is per­fect­ed and super­vised metic­u­lous­ly by our lead table top crafts­man, Bernard. With his impres­sive 48-year tenure, Bernard’s wealth of expe­ri­ence and metic­u­lous atten­tion to detail ensures our table top depart­ment runs with pre­ci­sion. The inten­sive process requires both the exper­tise of Bernard and two addi­tion­al team mem­bers and is con­duct­ed only under ide­al con­di­tions of tem­per­a­ture, air move­ment, and oth­er envi­ron­men­tal fac­tors, in order to assure a gor­geous fin­ished prod­uct. As such, it is not a process that can occur every day – the con­di­tions must be per­fect. Once cooled, the table tops are trans­ferred to our fin­ish­ing depart­ment for final touch­es before they head out to their new homes.

Using Carbonized Oak in Restaurant Design

Our car­bonized oak table tops can dra­mat­i­cal­ly trans­form any restau­rant design, serv­ing as a com­pelling neu­tral that enhances the beau­ty of the wood tex­ture. The play between the warm, organ­ic hues of the oak and the dark, charred effect from the car­boniza­tion process adds a dra­mat­ic sense of con­trast to your space.

Search­ing for some inspi­ra­tion to incor­po­rate car­bonized oak in your design? Here are a few of our favorite com­bi­na­tions:

  • Cre­ate a mod­ern vibe with our Hamp­ton booth, River­mont chairs and barstools, and car­bonized oak table tops in your pre­ferred shape and size.
  • Put a new spin on mid-cen­tu­ry charm by using the car­bonized oak with our Augus­ta booth, and Miller chairs and barstools.
  • For a clas­sic aes­thet­ic, the car­bonized oak table top works well with our Brunswick booth and Kem­per chairs and barstools.
  • If you’re aim­ing for time­less and tra­di­tion­al, you can’t go wrong with the Oak­ley booth, Elling­ton chairs and barstools, and car­bonized oak table tops.

Incor­po­rat­ing car­bonized oak into your restau­rant design opens the door to a unique aes­thet­ic that can effort­less­ly meld with oth­er design ele­ments, or even make a stand­alone state­ment in a more under­stat­ed space.

Get Creative with Custom Options from Old Dominion Furniture Co.

The ver­sa­til­i­ty and beau­ty of car­bonized wood makes it a unique addi­tion to your restau­rant design, mak­ing it pos­si­ble to cre­ate a com­plete­ly cus­tom look that turns your ideas into real­i­ty. 

We invite you to dis­cov­er the lim­it­less pos­si­bil­i­ties of incor­po­rat­ing car­bonized oak and oth­er cus­tom ele­ments from Old Domin­ion Fur­ni­ture Co. into your project. Our team is ready to help breathe life into your design con­cept, cre­at­ing an atmos­phere your guests will not only remem­ber, but will look for­ward to return­ing to. After all, a mem­o­rable din­ing expe­ri­ence is about more than just great food – it’s about cre­at­ing a dis­tinct, wel­com­ing space that speaks to your brand’s per­son­al­i­ty and your cus­tomers’ tastes.

For more infor­ma­tion about our car­bonized wood table tops and oth­er design options, get in touch with our team today.