The traditional Japanese technique of burning cedar to naturally create a rot- and insect-resistant outer layer is called shou-sugi-ban. And as with many Japanese approaches to the built environment, it is not only purposeful but it is beautiful:
No sticky, smelly, off-gassing sealants here! No paint job to redo every few years. Just a beautiful blackened (and slightly shimmery silver) surface. We love the hint of mystery in such a dark building material and find that this technique works rather suitably for primitive to ultra-contemporary styles.
As seen up top, shou-sugi-ban is suitable for the small (an outdoor garden bench), to the large (an entire house), and everything in between (a backyard shed).