WHAT THE HECK IS WENGE?! Furniture trends continued


 This WENGE is an old post, but beause it gets so many hits I’m sending it over the waves one more time!




According to Wikipedia, the word wenge, (pronounced ‘whenj’) when referring to color means a rich brown color with copper undertones.


According to most Iowans, however it is a word pronounce ‘when-gay’ and refers to a piece of furniture or a wood finish color.


Now it gets even more confusing because wenge is a wood color and it is an actual wood species. First things first: The furniture industry has identified the color as nearly black, in other words, ‘espresso’. So, now you need to know your coffee colors in order to describe the object of your desire. Remember it is the color of espresso, not latte, not cappuccino.


 Ready for more international brain teasing? Guess where it comes from.  Sounds rather French, but if you guessed that you’d be wrong. (Well, not all wrong if you are remembering the Republique d Zaire`. But you probably aren’t thinking that.)  It is indigenous to small African countries, such as Zaire. Even the name of Zaire adds to the global mystic of wenge when you consider it derives from the Portuguese. And by the way, the correct Latin name for wood species is Leguminosae.


Meanwhile, back in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, we carry a handsome furniture line from Italy. Calligaris. This fine company has all the wenge you could ever want! Calligaris specializes in clean, uninterrupted lines. Very fresh, sleek, and modern.


So, to continue with one more furniture trend for 2008, I give you a Calligaris contemporary bedroom setting (above photo). Best of all, I give you WENGE! 


Now, I’m off to sign up for a geography class and get my passport re-newed.

 I’m thinking I should hit Starbucks on the way.





Dianne Ross / Interior Designer

Phelan’s Interiors



5 Responses to “WHAT THE HECK IS WENGE?! Furniture trends continued”

  1. Stacy Charles Says:

    It is true that Wenge is indigenous to Zaire also known as the Democratic Republic of Congo (whose borders, by the way, stretch from the south atlantic ocean on the west to Tanzania and Uganda on the east – not quite a small country).

    Wenge is also found in several Central African Countries ranging from Cameroon through Central African Republic, Peoples Republic of Congo, and Gabon.

    Wenge is known for its beautiful striations of tight wavy grain in it’s heartwood, while the sapwood tends to be lighter in color and has wide swathes of grainy pattern. The wood is quite dark dense and very heavy. When kiln dried, the surface is extremely smooth with tight pores and very little variations in the grain.

    To see modern Wenge furniture, go to http://www.contemporaryafricanhome.com

  2. dross08 Says:

    Your knowledge AND generosity are very much appreciated!


  3. vigilon security Says:

    i love the use of wenge. it provides a zen feel to the room.

  4. Chris Says:

    Hi: can you offer an opinion? I have a beige/oatmeal microsuede platform bed–very contemporary. But beigey. Would Wenge furniture–armoire, nightstands, etc go with it? If I paint the room tan/beige, would that “tie” the bed and furniture? I am trying to not be matchy-matchy and am donating all my furniture, except the bed–and need to get new stuff. Thanks!

    • dross08 Says:

      Hey Chris, The wenge furniture will be wonderful with your modern look. If you are trying not to be matchy-matchy then I would consider another color for paint. Think in terms of smokey colors;
      almost -invisible-lilac, sage, gunmetal, frozen aqua . . . you get the idea! Have fun!

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