Benjamin Klebba, the designer behind Phloem Studio, was practically raised to be a maker. Growing up in Michigan, Ben's father taught construction trades and also built the house that Ben grew up in. After spending some time building guitars and custom furniture, Ben moved to Portland to strike out on his own.
Where did you grow up? Harbor Beach, MI
Where did you study/train? My father taught construction trades at an industrial arts center for twenty years and he built the houses I grew up in and the furniture and cabinets within them. He then transitioned into building wooden sailboats. Woodworking was always around growing up — it was a part of the way we lived. I moved to Chicago after college, apprenticed with a luthier building acoustic guitars for 2 years, then worked for Seth Deysach of Lagomorph Design. That's where it really started to come together — I learned a lot about building furniture, designing with intention, and running a small business.
What was the first thing you made and sold? Adirondack chairs. I built them during summer break in high school to make some extra cash.
Who is your design idol? Hans Wegner had some beautiful chairs, and honestly — I know it's stereotypical of a woodworker to say — but the Shakers are my jam — so much of what they did was so simple and distilled.
Where do you find inspiration? Friends — I have some very talented friends and family members who are super inspiring and amazing to be around. And good music.
What’s one thing you wish YOU had made or designed? Luggage with wheels.
What’s your advice for a designer/maker just starting out? Show up, work hard, stay late, breathe deep, repeat. And hustle.
To see more of Ben's work, check out his website: Phloem Studio
(Images: Phloem Studio)