While travelling through Japan, our founder, architect Pieter Weijnen, became fascinated with the beauty and sustainability of black charred wood. He then set out to master the traditional Shou Sugi Ban wood charring technique. In order to guarantee the quality of the black charred wood in terms of uniformity and sustainability, he even developed his own, highly efficient production process. This resulted in the founding of our company Zwarthout | Shou Sugi Ban in mid 2012.
We were the first in Europe to develop our own collection of beautiful black charred wood species. Exclusive and each with their own texture, character and finishing.
Beauty and sustainability
We enjoy contributing to exceptional, aesthetically pleasing designs for exterior and interior design applications. It is our honour to put in the work to make our world more sustainable. That is why we aim for carbon neutrality as far as possible, and we only use certified wood species.
Making exceptional things together
Every day, we enjoy designing and realising exceptional things together with others who love aesthetics, sustainability and perfect quality. All of our wood is charred in our own workshop. You can leave the perfect, invisible mounting of our exclusive Shou Sugi Ban charred wood to our Zwarthout Installation Service.
The Zwarthout Team
Our team is made up of various specialists, including builder-architects, product developers, charring masters, carpenters, furniture makers, technicians, designers and artists. We all have a predilection for honest, natural materials: for wood that has character and, of course, for fire!
The Zwarthout | Shou Sugi Ban Team
Captain, architect, visionary, inventor, concierge.
After twenty years’ experience in architecture, a serious accident propelled Pieter to make a career switch from sustainable architect to craftsman. Pieter is the founder of Zwarthout | Shou Sugi Ban, and he also introduced the Japanese traditionally charred black wood in the Netherlands and Europe. He first utilised the exclusive black wood in his own sustainable home. Developing a deep interest in the practice, Pieter started charring the wood himself. He became acquainted with the traditional Japanese Shou Sugi Ban technique and added modern techniques. “Charring the wood in the flames of our own oven is still the most beautiful thing to me. I consider it a major challenge to pass on a better world than the one we were given.”
Navigator, industrial designer, connector.
Our operational management director is originally an industrial designer with a passion to convert ideas into a business. “I focus mainly on sustainability, responsible entrepreneurship and consumption. Quality is my number one priority. It forms the basis for satisfied customers. I am proud of the artistic beauty of the black wood we char. My ambition is for Zwarthout | Shou Sugi Ban to grow internationally, whilst being respectful of mankind, society and the environment.”
Stoker, architect, technical expert, dragon boat helmsman, home cook.
He holds degrees from the HTS Architecture and the Academy of Architecture. With more than twenty years’ experience as an engineer and project leader, Frank is our architectural expert for various architectural firms. His duties include preparing technical drawings for the wood profiles. “I want to deliver high-quality work, based on traditional methods, as though it were for myself. I combine technique with craftsmanship, which enables me to 'read’ a design and think about the suitable finishing for the final product. I like to use my hands to create a special product.”
Fire master, head of production, strategist, know-it-all, chef.
After studying Political Science, Ruben realised that he wasn’t cut out to sit behind a desk. As a chef, he learned that fire can do far more than merely destruct, as it can also help create things of beauty. Zwarthout was the logical step towards something new. “I find it very exciting to be part of a growing and ambitious company, which is also something I gladly contribute to.” Our fire master knows how to set about things and (luckily) doesn't mind getting his hands dirty.
Sales manager, go-getter, optimist, joker.
After years working for various large companies, Ali saw the unique opportunity to utilise the business fire he has burning inside him and apply his experience in special projects as a sales manager at Zwarthout. “Together, we ensure that our customers’ goals and wishes are transformed into stunning wooden products. I use my honesty, customer-focused approach and trust to contribute to Zwarthout's growth.”
Advisor in France and abroad, colour expert, Zwarthout nomad.
After working as a technical graphic artist for many years, Thomas wanted to achieve greater harmony with the environment and mankind. “I came upon the Japanese Shou Sugi Ban technique by chance and I became fascinated by the quality and beauty of the charred wood. These days, I am Zwarthout's very own nomad, as I travel through France to meet passionate people, who, like me, want to know everything there is to know about this special wood, which is then used to clad the most beautiful buildings! The fire is not the only place you can feel warmth at Zwarthout, you feel it within the team, too.”
Outdoor lover, account manager, polyglot, mountain biker.
After a career in tourism, I started looking for a company where sustainability is paramount. My search didn’t last long, because less than five minutes cycling from my house I came across Zwarthout l Shou Sugi Ban. I was immediately excited when I saw the fantastic products, the smell of charred wood and the beautiful working environment surrounded by one of Leersum's forests. And the icing on the cake for me was daily speaking French, English and German everyday with clients all over the world. Advising customers and then working together on a beautiful project, that gives me a lot of energy as an account manager! In my spare time, I use this energy while mountain biking around the Amerongse Berg or walking one of the ‘’Lange Afstands Wandelingen’’ in the Netherlands.
Milou van Lokven
Marketeer, creative, sports fanatic, foodie.
“Wow!” That was the first thought that went through Milou's mind when she first saw Zwarthout's stunning black charred planks. We like that a lot. “I was fascinated by the structure and look of the wood as well as the pure craftsmanship from the get-go. And all that in Leersum, a town very close to where I live. As the team's marketeer, I want to broaden Zwarthout’s international presence as much as possible. That way, as many people as possible can enjoy our beautiful black wood. Besides my work at Zwarthout, I also spend time sharing my own healthy recipes online. I create and develop these recipes myself, and I also take the accompanying photos. I share my recipes on my own Instagram page, hoping to inspire whoever comes across my posts.”
Furniture maker, company clown, musician, medieval mercenary.
After high school, Dominic ended up at the conservatory as a Drummer. Within six months, he knew that this was not the right fit for him, since he couldn't really express himself in terms of creativity. “After a year of exploring and working various jobs, I enrolled in the vocational school for furniture makers. Making furniture is what I love most, but I wanted to do more than assemble squares. Zwarthout is the perfect place for me to express myself. Here, at this company, each unique furniture order challenges me to explore the limits of what is possible. In my free time, I regularly explore my own limits as a knight while re-enacting medieval battles. It's somewhat similar to working at Zwarthout: working hard and having a beer together once everything's done. Fantastic!”
Wood treater, man of the theatre and handyman, artist.
With a background in stagecraft and visual arts, Gerard was soon captivated by our unique company. “Those who work at Zwarthout pay attention to more than just their own wallets. We care about our planet and believe it should be passed in good shape. We do not walk around with banners; we wear black overalls. As an artist, I strive to use materials and techniques that are more or less handed to me. That's where Zwarthout comes in. The next project will be a portrait burned into a wooden panel, which the motto: ‘Set it on fire!'
Sarissa van Hal
Fire woman, all-round employee, bookworm, bassist, coffeeholic.
Sarissa stumbled onto Zwarthout accidentally, in a period during which she kept hopping from one student job to the next. “Before starting here, the only form of trees that I ever laid in my hands was a book. Nowadays, I'll have stacks of wooden planks on my shoulders while I walk around the workshop, which is really the most amazing place you could ever be employed: a historic farm in the woods in Leersum. The great thing about Zwarthout is that I'm given ample room to observe and learn about how a company is formed, as well as how it develops and grows. Equality between colleagues plays a central role here, which is something I haven't encountered at my former employers. I know that every day I set foot on the Zwarthout premises; I will have learned something new by the end of the day.”
Furniture maker, carpenter, graphic designer, DJ, home cook.
After spending many years mainly behind a computer screen, Sierk developed a strong urge to start making beautiful things. “A friend of mine introduced me to Zwarthout, which was a good fit from the start. With my experience as a furniture maker, carpenter and graphic designer, I felt right at home. At Zwarthout, I am responsible for the mounting service. Along with my colleagues, I ensure that our products are assembled and mounted just as they should be. In my spare time, I mostly find myself looking for obscure music and preparing interesting recipes.”
Otto ter Haar
DJ in the making, sandwich lover, fire master, sociability person.
After studying Human Resources, Otto thought it was high time to focus more on craftsmanship. "Working with my hands, that seemed like a good idea to me as the son of a furniture upholsterer". Zwarthout l Shou Sugi Ban soon came across his path. After seeing the burning oven in the workshop in Leersum, he was sold. "The process of charring wood fascinated me enormously". And so Otto became one of our fire masters! Do you hear someone whistle at the oven? Then you know for sure that Otto is at work.
Want to know more about our products? Feel free to contact us!