“A single, well-placed exotic wood furniture accent can become the most noticed piece of furniture in a room,” said Judith Sisler Johnston, president of Sisler Johnston Interior Design and AISD Allied Member. “Like dynamic fabrics, exotic woods enrich a room and are an effective way to make an elegant statement.”
Exotic woods are defined by their color and pattern. Zebrawood is dark brown and honey striped as the name implies. Cocobolo, or Rosewood, varies into many colors, including orange or black striped. The pattern in an exotic wood is referred to as its figure. Burl, binds-eye, curly, and crotch are terms furniture makers use to define these oddities that occur naturally in different species of wood.
The most common application of exotic woods is as a focal point on a furniture piece, including panels, inlays, or sections that will be seen, such as a cabinet door or a table top. Because of the sculptural quality and color variations of these woods, they are often described as being able to transform furnishings into works of art.
Since they are scarce and expensive, exotic woods are primarily used as a veneer. While some believe furniture made using exotic wood veneers is less valuable than non-exotic solid wood pieces, the opposite is true. Most exotic wood veneers are used on the larger surfaces of pieces, including desk tops and tables. They can be designed to create patterns, such as a starburst, or used to make wall panels or stylish doors.
Some fear the splitting or separating they have seen on antique furnishings; however, modern glue and fabrication techniques have changed the veneers’ quality in recent years. Newer exotic wood veneers are often thicker than antique pieces. Bumps and scratches can be sanded out or refinished.
When considering exotic woods over cultivated species, environmental issues concern designers and clients alike. Industry groups, however, are responding. The
International Tropical Timber Association, for example, provides certification and guidelines for the sustainable management of tropical forests worldwide.
“Since so many of the furniture choices today come from other countries, I am constantly researching this topic so that I have the most updated information to convey to my clients when recommending furniture made from exotic woods,” Sisler Johnston said.
The Sisler Johnston team of licensed, highly trained, and gifted designers successfully creates living spaces from concept through realization throughout the United States. Judith Sisler Johnston combines experience, knowledge, and professionalism to
help clients develop their visions while analyzing their design requirements. The company has been recognized with more than 70 industry awards, including Aurora, Laurel, and Excel awards.
For more information about Sisler Johnston Interior Design, call (904) 288-0908 or visit the website at www.sislerjohnston.com.