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Al Eiber

In conversation with a prominent collector of avant-garde design.

By Judith Gura / 1st May 2019

Albert Eiber is a retired physician and Miami Beach resident. He is a board member of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, and has served on the vetting committee for Design Miami and Design Miami/Basel for the past five years. Eiber travels to most of the major international design shows and auctions, reporting on his findings in his popular blog,

Al Eiber

Al Eiber

The Design Edit (TDE): Why do you collect design?
Al Eiber: I felt that living with furniture, lighting, tableware that I thought was beautiful would help me enjoy every day more. After more than 30 years, finding a great object still excites me.

TDE: What kind of objects are you drawn to?
Al Eiber: Early on, American mid-century design excited me, then my focus changed to Italian post WWII design. In the past ten years, I have been interested in young designers who are pushing the boundaries of materials and process.

TDE: Which designer do you most admire, and why?
Al Eiber: It is impossible for me to pick just one. I will narrow it down to Ettore Sottsass and Gaetano Pesce. These two great maestros influenced generations of younger architects and industrial designers, with important contributions to disciplines including architecture, design, jewellery and painting.

Dan Johnson, ‘Gazelle dining suite’, 1955 (foreground). Rody Graumans, ‘Droog 85 Lamps Chandelier’, 1993 (above). In the background, an Ettore Sottsass cabinet and Salvatore Meli ceramic sculpture.

Dan Johnson, ‘Gazelle dining suite’, 1955 (foreground). Rody Graumans, ‘Droog 85 Lamps Chandelier’, 1993 (above). Ettore Sottsass cabinet with Salvatore Meli ceramic sculpture (background).

TDE: Of objects you already own, can you pick a favourite?
Al Eiber: I wake up every day enjoying many pieces in our collection. This morning I am particularly fond of our ‘Gazelle’ dining suite designed by Dan Johnson in 1955. The bronze chair frames and the seat and back caning are just elegant.

Dan Johnson, ‘Gazelle dining suite’, 1955

Dan Johnson, ‘Gazelle dining suite’, 1955

TDE: Of objects you don’t own, what do you crave?
Al Eiber: For many, many years I have lusted for the ‘Les Dessous de table’, a c.1991 dining set by Yonel Lebovici. Lebovici was a talented industrial designer who made many great design objects over 25 years.

TDE: Any comments on the marketplace?
Al Eiber: I think the marketplace for great design is very strong. I truly believe that the best design is still undervalued, and as more and more fine art collectors discover design, designers will push their boundaries and prices will continue to go up.

TDE: Which contemporary designers do you think will still be admired decades from now?
Al Eiber: This is the toughest question. I think Joris Laarman is a strong possibility. Two others are Studio Job and the Haas Brothers – aims to let lovers of great design know where to see, and where to buy, great design – new or old.

Article by Judith Gura
Article by Judith Gura
Judith Gura was a New York-based writer and lecturer with a special focus on contemporary design. She covered the design market for two decades, and published a number of books on modern design, furniture and interiors. View all articles by Judith Gura