Get to know this Radical Design expert and collector
It’s hard to reconcile bold, avant-garde design with the unassuming, quiet demeanor of vetting committee member Al Eiber. But this retired physician and Miami Beach resident possesses both a singular passion for the material and an astonishing body of knowledge.
Eiber has collaborated with Design Miami/ since 2014, bringing his expertise—specifically in Italian Radical Design—to the vetting process that ensures the authenticity and accuracy of the pieces on view at the fair. A prodigious collector, Eiber also sits on the Board of Trustees of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. We checked in with Al during these turbulent times to see what he is currently up to and what he is looking forward to in the next normal.
Currently on your mind:
Surviving this pandemic.
How and when did you start collecting?
I have been collecting for more than 30 years. I began with mid-century American material like the Eameses and George Nelson. Then I quickly shifted to Italian Radical Design and formed a special bond with Ettore Sottsass and Gaetano Pesce more than 25 years ago.
What are you collecting now?
What keeps you busy?
Keeping up with the new, exciting, younger designers that are popping up all over the world.
What is your favorite part of Design Miami/?
Discovering new talent.
What are you most looking forward to this year?
The opening of Design Miami/ this year.
You're an expert in Italian Radical Design and studio jewelry. Is there something else you wish you knew more about?
French 1940s and 1950s furniture.
Favorite object in your collection:
Miami Sound by Gaetano Pesce. I commissioned the large resin bookcases by Pesce around 1995. I loved the bookcases so much that I then commissioned Pictures in the Exhibition Cabinet in 1996. I still own and love them.
Is there a piece you currently have your eye on?
Les Dessous de Table Dining Set designed by Yonel Lebovici in 1992.
What’s on your desk right now?
A model of the Porsche Taycan—the new totally electric Porsche.
If you were new to collecting design, where would you start?
Brown furniture—great early American wood furniture. It's unbelievably inexpensive right now and so well made.
What do you see as the future of design?
Design gets stronger all the time. Designers are using their talents to improve people’s lives, and supporters of design enjoy living with well-designed and interesting material. ◆
All images courtesy of Robin Hill.