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Worn Out Wednesday – Benjamin Klebba

The recession was a great kick off to many careers. Take Benjamin Klebba for instance. He was working for a cabinet maker in Portland and got laid off and he thought, “Well, it is now or never!”. It was a struggle but after a year his company, Phloem Studios was getting more and more traction working with top notch interior designers and architects. He recently got a job designing nearly the entire home of one family and just sent two of his chairs to Berlin and Brooklyn. It doesn’t hurt that he has good people around him and gets his studio partner Matt Pierce to do any of the leather work that comes his way.

Desk by Studio Phloem (chair by Ben's dad)
Desk by Studio Phloem (chair by Ben’s dad) Image used with permission by copyright holder

Klebba has been surrounded by building and design since he was a kid. His father taught construction at an industrial arts center in Michigan, and he also built the house Ben grew up in, the furniture in it as well as a sail boat that they would sail on Lake Huron. “He was always working on something!” Ben laughed.

After graduating from college with a communications degree he ended up working in a record shop and then moved on to making guitars. But working for a luthier ended up being monotonous  and there isn’t much room for creativity, so he found himself a job with Lagomorph Designs in Chicago and really sunk his teeth into the furniture world. He learned not only about building but owning a company.

Today Ben’s business is fan-furniture-tastic and he will be exhibiting at the prestigious ICFF show in New York this May. This month Phloem is rolling out its’ first bed which will have a spindle headboard. They will also be launching their popular Nadine chair with leather straps. “Usually we make that chair with seat belt straps in various colors but a client asked if we could do it in leather and that got us excited. It changes the feel of the chair and makes it more grown up,” he told us.

Work from Studio Phloem
Work from Studio Phloem Image used with permission by copyright holder

Below Ben talks to us about his personal style.

Pants: I am a huge fan of Levis 501‘s. That is pretty much all I wear since I am in the wood shop all the time. They also look great after wear.

Shirts: I wear a lot of American Apparel tees. I go to J.Crew a lot for meeting with clients     because you can still get dust all over them and they’re not damaged. For fancy shirts I have some nice Gants, and I shop a lot at Communion and Machus that carry awesome brands that I like to support.

Knitwear: Sweaters get covered in dust so I can’t wear ‘em! But I wear American Apparel hoodies!

Shoes: I just can’t wear work boots! I’m not into them. I stick to Vans slip-ons, New Balance and stuff without a high arch. Also I love Adidas Sambas, classic easy tennis shoes.

Outerwear: I have two old-school Pendleton plaid wool jackets, and I have a new really awesome Filson Mackinaw jacket that is wool that I love. It has four front pockets and side flaps on the back.

Accessories: I have a black canvas Filson briefcase that is perfect. I wear a beenie in the winter time but I’m not a big hat person. I do rock a Kershaw pocket knife because it is useful and a beautiful thing.

What is your favorite app? I love Instagram! I can show people what I am doing.

What is your favorite piece of tech? I love my wide belt sander by Sand Master. It makes things really flat.

What is your next tech purchase? I’m going to geek out on tools. I need a Laguna bandsaw. I am really excited about that!

Cator Sparks
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Cator Sparks was the Editor-in-Chief of The Manual from its launch in 2012 until 2018. Previously, Cator was covering…
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