Phloem Studio, specializing in streamlined, intentionally designed furniture, has packed up shop and moved to the Gorge. Previously lodged inside Beam & Anchor on Interstate Avenue, founder and head craftsman Benjamin Klebba said the move was primarily driven by the need to get more space and consolidate rent costs.
“Phloem Studio was growing too much and we needed a bigger space, but another part of it is that I am with an awesome wood sculptor named Laura Buchan,” says Klebba. “We had our own woodshops and then we were paying rent on an apartment so that was three rents all of the time.”
But, like many other local makers have found, Portland is starting to price small businesses out of the market, forcing them to look outside of the city.“I feel like in the last three years that light industrial space has doubled in price, so for a lot of people like me, if you need more space, that is really tricky,” says Klebba.
The new 4,000-sq-foot studio, settled right on the river, dwarfs their 2,200-square-foot Beam & Anchor space they shared with two other businesses. But it’s not just the added space and killer views that make the Stevenson location ideal.
“One thing that is really rad about this shop is that my dad lives here eight months out of the year and works for me. He wasn’t doing that in Portland, so having him here is great,” says Klebba. “He’s a woodworker from way back so the knowledge base, the way we work together, and having old-school, dad-woodworker tricks here is really nice and worth its weight in platinum.”
For those concerned that the relocation to a tranquil setting with a family atmosphere will make getting a hold of Phloem Studios furniture harder, slow down production or initiate a full-scale exodus from the Portland market, Klebba isn’t worried. “I’m a workaholic. Period. It’s been steady growth with us since we started and moving out here has weirdly connected me to other people in Portland who noticed because people get excited about the Gorge,” says Klebba.
And for those taking notice in the creative industry who are feeling the financial brunt of Portland’s rapid expansion, he says the more the merrier; but on one condition: “Don’t price me out!”