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Classic Japanese design trend makes its way to the Bay Area

18 Mar 2013 11:53 AM
Many home design trends have leapt across the ocean from Japan to the United States - simple layouts, wooden saunas and Zen gardens, to name a few - but an emerging decorating infatuation could prove to be the most popular yet.

Many home design trends have leapt across the ocean from Japan to the United States - simple layouts, wooden saunas and Zen gardens, to name a few - but an emerging decorating infatuation could prove to be the most popular yet. Shou-sugi-ban is a classic Japanese approach to exterior siding. It uses natural wood that is preserved by being charred, washed and coated with natural oil, which gives it a rustic look and durable nature. 

Coming to America
The method has been used in Japan for centuries, but is just now making its way to the States. This is especially true in the Bay Area, where owners of restaurants and other pieces San Francisco real estate have begun to incorporate the technique into their properties. 

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, shou-sugi-ban has especially caught fire among creative restaurateurs. At the recently opened Central Kitchen, for example, diners can view burnt cedar in the restaurant's outdoor dining area. The two men responsible for the eatery's design, Sean Quigley and Todd McCrea, said that they learned about the technique online and prized it for its aesthetic beauty and practical applications.

"I came across a number of examples of how it had been used for centuries in rural Japan," McCrea told the source. "We loved the fact that while [it was] an arresting decorative notion, it also had practical applications because it leaves the wood fire- and insect-retardant." 

From hearth to home
As more restaurants embrace the ancient technique, it is likely to gain popularity among homeowners. Due to its impermeable nature and easy maintenance, shou-sugi-ban is an ideal way to decorate a porch or outdoor eating area. Many homeowners are finding that incorporating the technique into their landscaping and exteriors design strategies gives their properties a unique and compelling personality.

However, shou-sugi-ban is also making its way inside American homes. According to sZinteriors, charred wood - traditionally cedar - can be used to dress up a fire place and create one-of-a-kind furniture.

Around the Bay
For now, though, design enthusiasts in the Bay Are may find the most creative examples in several of the city's most trend?setting restaurants. In addition to the aforementioned Central Kitchen, restaurants such as Duende and Hi Lo Barbecue have begun bringing elements of shou-sugi-ban into their dining rooms and exteriors. In the case of Hi Lo, the wood has helped the restaurant further refine its decorating sense.

"We instantly knew it would be a focal piece of our design," Hi Lo owner Dave Esler told the Chronicle. "It's the absolute perfect aesthetic for a BBQ restaurant."