PHLOEM STUDIO is a furniture design studio based in the Pacific Northwest, founded by Benjamin Klebba. PHLOEM creates timeless contemporary furniture with an emphasis on natural materials, exceptional craft, and graceful proportions.
Each piece of PHLOEM STUDIO furniture is designed by Benjamin Klebba, his father Ron Klebba, and a rotating cast of collaborators. With a reverence of the natural world, an attention to detail, and a priority on comfort, PHLOEM creates simple intentional furniture that explores the lasting relationship between handmade object and our human habitat. This dialogue begins between designer and material, before being guided by function and form, and then finally crafted by skilled hands, brains and hearts for you to appreciate and use for years and years. Our most fervent hope is that this relationship with your furniture lives beyond trends and decades, and is passed on to family and friends, well loved and patinaed. We celebrate those simple moments.
Benjamin Klebba Bio
I grew up in the Great Lake state of Michigan in the woods across the street from Lake Huron. My dad built the house we grew up in, the furniture inside it, and sailboats we would take out on Lake Huron. This left a lasting impression. As a child I drew constantly and explored the woods and shoreline.
Life has led me to furniture circularly. Drawing, making music and recording it, moving to Chicago, playing in bands, working in a record store, staying out late. Music eventually led to building acoustic guitars, working for free on the weekends, but there wasn’t as much creativity involved as I wanted. I started thinking about growing up with a woodshop in our backyard and all those things that dad made.
After spending two years working for a furniture builder in Chicago, I moved west to Portland, Oregon to be closer to nature and put down roots in the Pacific Northwest. I worked in a cabinet shop for 2 years before I rented a small shop space with a friend to pursue my own practice of building furniture of my own design. Right around this time the economy crashed and I lost my job. This was the push I needed to start my own practice, and PHLOEM was born with the intention of creating simple designs that could enrich people’s lives.
I get incredibly excited about the minutia of proportion. I am driven by refining simple craft processes and formulating best practices for our small design studio. I find great inspiration in natural landscapes: shells found on the beach, pinecones and moss from the forest floor, bones and tree limbs in the desert, the undulations of waves and the wooly arcs of mountains. My creative family and friends, music from all times and places, unexpected shapes and patterns found all over every day all inform my outlook and output.
The creative trajectory of Phloem is now shared with my dad, Ron Klebba. We design each piece in our studio in the Columbia River Gorge.
Ron Klebba Bio
I grew up in rural Michigan eight miles west of Lake Huron, above the “Halfway Tavern”, a country tavern my parents operated that catered to the local farmers and factory workers. The farm across the road kept me generously supplied with odd boards of all shapes and sizes, nails, bolts and wood screws. As a sophomore in High School I was introduced to fine woodworking in a shop class and I decided I wanted to teach woodworking.
After graduating from college I taught woodworking, metal working, mechanical drawing, and building trades at a vocational school where we would build entire homes. Over the years my spouse Nadine and I have built several homes for our family. We found ourselves building and moving into another new home about every nine years. We loved the challenge and change that came with that lifestyle; designing homes around the specific needs of our family at the given time, and always with easy access to the outdoors and Lake Huron.
My love for fine woodworking and craft started with the Foxfire Books, Fine Woodworking Magazine and the teachings of Michael Dunbar. I was intrigued enough by the sound of the dulcimer and the banjo to build them and sell them and then explore chair design and construction. On a trip to Novia Scotia in the 1990’s, as I admired a fully rigged, eighteen foot daysailer I thought to myself “we could build one of those!" Since then, I have built many wooden boats completely by hand, including a 16’ Herreshoff daysailer, a 28’ Herreshoff sailboat, and recently a 30’ trawler. I have never considered myself to be a boatbuilder but rather a woodworker that has built several wooden boats.
We have lived in Hood River, Oregon since 2011. We enjoy our time with our family here and visit Michigan every summer to spend time on our boats on Lake Huron. At Phloem Studio I build prototypes, do working drawings and collaborate closely with Ben on design and fabrication. I love every minute of it! And so it goes.
PHLOEM designs have won awards including an Architizer A+ Award and a GOOD Design Award. Furniture pieces have debuted at design, craft and trade shows throughout North America including the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, WestEdge, and the American Craft Council Show.
Select clients include DropBox, Nike, Twitter, Ace Hotel Kyoto, HBO, Stumptown Coffee, AirBnB, Google and hopefully you, dear reader.