Shou-sugi-ban refers to the Japanese method of pre-burning the surface of cedar siding. The charred surface is thought to help protect the wood from decay and insects. In my opinion it also happens to look really nice.
Depending on the wood you use and the way it was cut, the fire chases down softer material in the grain and leaves an amazing topography of peaks and valleys. The effect accentuates the wood in three dimensions the same way a good stain brings out character in a flat surface.
After a couple of mock-ups our friends at Sightglass were game to give it a try. We elected to use douglass fir rather that the traditional cedar, since we were able to find plenty of re-claimed roof sheathing. After the boards were burned and scrubbed we re-sawed the planks to expose the profile of the burn.