In the case of "ebony," the versatile word used to describe a color, a material, and a culture, origin is central to grasping the power and value of what might be considered the closest thing to a "gem" in the wood family.
Ebony is perhaps most broadly understood as the black color of piano keys but rarely is it viewed -- and scarcely in the Western Hemisphere is it physically touched -- in its pure log form native to southern India, Sri Lanka, Western Africa and Indonesia that dates back to Ancient Egypt. Each region has its own species of the wood that roughly resembles a chunk like this when raw:
The black center is the focal point and its incredible smoothness when polished makes it popular for African and Southeast Asian ornaments and masks. According to Wikipedia,
Ebony has a long history of use, with carved pieces having been found in Ancient Egyptian tombs. By the end of the 16th century, fine cabinets for the luxury trade were made of ebony in Antwerp. The wood's dense hardness lent itself to refined moldings framing finely detailed pictorial panels with carving in very low relief (bas-relief), usually of allegorical subjects, or with scenes taken from classical or Christian history. Within a short time, such cabinets were also being made in Paris, where their makers became known as ébénistes, which remains the French term for a cabinetmaker.
Modern interior decoration and product design have implemented actual ebony on the high-end...
…while interest in recreating the look of the expensive and exotic material has grown along with the faux bois trend:
Thus, ebony was a no-brainer when it came to expanding the PANYL woodgrain finish roster. We've long been obsessed with the impact dark wood can have in a room (see our Pinterest board on the topic) and Ebony is the only way to go even darker than your everyday dark wood.
Pictured at top, our new finish graces the Bestå Tombo. Below, the Bestå Vara. Lastly, a close-up of the finish itself.