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Shopping: Unique and charred vintage furniture pieces from Smoke by Shou Sugi Ban Gallery

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Smoke by Shou Sugi Ban Gallery
A pair of lounge chairs that have been given a partial shou sugi ban treatment.

They say there is no smoke without fire, and this couldn't be more true of Smoke by Shou Sugi Ban Gallery, a furniture store in Macpherson.

Its namesake Smoke collection comprises stools, chairs and coffee tables that are all black. This is not their natural colour, nor have they been stained that way.

Instead, creative founder Marcus Wang uses the century-old Japanese technique of shou sugi ban which involves torching the surface of a solid piece of wood with an open flame, charring the surface for a textured and blackened look.

Shou sugi ban was traditionally used for timber panels in Japanese houses. Charred wood is resistant to fire, water and termite attacks.

A 20-year veteran in the timber industry, Mr Wang has learnt different techniques of working with wood, and is believed to be the first in Singapore to apply shou sugi ban to furniture pieces. He also personally designs the pieces.

The charring is done in a workshop in Singapore, and requires much skill. According to Ong Meng Hong, Smoke's general manager, different types of wood have different charring effects. For example, on a piece of cherry wood, the charring results in a reptile-skin-like texture.

Smoke by Shou Sugi Ban Gallery
A charred coffee table from Smoke.

Heat control and technique are paramount. Too little heat and the surface is only lightly scorched; too much and you're left with a pile of charcoal.

On average, Mr Wang takes four to five days to complete a piece, painstakingly done by hand.

"No two pieces are the same," says Mr Ong.

Stools are priced from S$500, a sofa from S$2,750, while a coffee table may carry a price tag upwards of S$9,000.

The shop also carries a range of vintage furniture which have been slightly modified to give it a modern touch, as well as live edge solid wood tables.

Its most unique collection would have to be from Smoke. "We see them as pieces of art, not just furniture," says Mr Ong.

7 Opal Crescent 
Mon to Sat, 11am to 7.30pm
Sun, by appointment only
T: 6291-3277

Written by Tay Suan Chiang for The Business Times