In the forests of Costa Rica, Parota trees grow for years and ultimately reach enormous sizes. Known to Americans as Elephant Ear trees, reading the rings exposed by cutting a cross section of a Parota is akin to reading a history book. Periods of drought, excessive rain, or relentless sunshine, as well as damage caused by natural fires or by man are revealed to those who understand the language of the rings. The colorful tones of the Parota wood have made it the preferred choice for homeowners intent on bringing elements of nature into their homes. Uniquely shaped slices taken from the tree trunk are used to create stunning “live edge” furniture pieces that are sanded and finished with a clear coat to preserve the wood’s exotic look. Care is taken to maintain the natural characteristics of the wood, even to the point of producing tables that have the same holes in them as found in the original tree slices. The furnishings produced are literally one of a kind.

“Parota trees are found throughout South America, but especially in Costa Rica,” said Vogue Interiors’ award-winning designer Sheila Corasaniti, IDS. “Some people try using other woods for live edge furnishings, but the Parota wood is the most exotic. I’ve found people want something in their home that offers a connection to nature. In Southwest Florida, that connection is often expressed with coral objects or seashells. Having a furniture piece that comes directly from something as magnificent as a Parota tree takes the connection with nature to a different level. The wood conveys a relaxed feeling, but is highly elegant. No two pieces are the same because they are taken directly from what a specific slice of the tree offers. People love having natural elements in their home, and the Parota live edge furnishings offer a wonderful element that we can incorporate into the design.”

The homeowners’ desire for natural wood elements has prompted the creation of live edge dining, cocktail, and sofa tables, as well desks used in elegantly appointed studies. In the bedroom, interesting headboards and benches placed at the foot of the bed often feature live edge designs. From a design perspective, live edge pieces provide tremendous flexibility.

“Live edge pieces can go with just about any décor,” said Sheila. “We’re primarily incorporating them in contemporary designs, but they work equally well in Asian and Polynesian styles. What’s interesting is the desire for wood elements has extended into accessory selections as well. Wall art made of natural wood, sculptures, wooden bowls and vases, and even pillows that have tassels with wooden beads have become popular. Just like the furniture pieces, the accessories are presented with a clear coat of urethane to preserve the natural look. The beauty of the Parota wood live edge furnishings has prompted a renaissance in the use of wood elements throughout our designs that are often integrated with glass or metal to create a fresh, natural look.”