CreativeMornings/Miami: “Minimal” by Nick Gelpi

CreativeMornings/Miami: “Minimal” by Nick Gelpi

CreativeMornings, The Lab Miami
Tuesday, June 10, 2014


Last Friday I hopped up out of bed at 6:30. Yeah, and it’s summer time. Only one thing could have me so excited that I would be out of bed that early. That is CreativeMornings. What IS CreativeMornings? It’s a breakfast lecture series hosted in a multitude of cities across the United States and internationally, directed towards creative individuals. I’ve read people call it the TED for creatives. I would agree. The event starts at 8:30 and begins with a complimentary breakfast, and once the mingling and delicious food is over, it’s time for the talk. Each talk is typically 20 minutes and the topic is chosen by the big dogs in NYC. If you would like to read more about the brains behind the operation, check out the Swiss-Miss aka Tina Roth Eisenberg.

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 9.10.59 AM

This month’s “Minimal” Logo

This month’s theme was “MINIMAL,” a topic that immediately intrigued the ‘architect’ in me. It was a funny coincidence that when the speaker was released it turned out to be one of my professors from college, Nick Gelpi. I should have known Malik, the host of CreativeMornings Miami and my ex-professor also, would have chosen that route. Let’s just say I was excited.

That morning I put on my comfy-coolest outfit on, didn’t fix my hair, and hit the road with Gio and Delia. This would be the second lecture we have attended since having attended the inaugural talk back in November. The talk was held at the LAB Miami, a collaborative workspace setting, part of an up-and-coming movement in Miami of creative and technologic collaboration. Upon arriving, we were greeted by Malik and a delicious spread of honey muffins, this crazy-good granola, and to make the deal even sweeter, granola stuffed dates. Yum. Panther Coffee also provided some of their own delicious coffee (which I can imagine was delicious but I don’t drink coffee, oops!). The house was packed and I ran into a couple of friends from school and my Moonlighter pals.


Having satisfied our hunger and social duties, Nick Gelpi took the stage.


The talk began with an image of this creepy and “Dali-esque” medical instrument. Nick spoke of the material qualities of stainless steel, of how it is able to be sanitized and used within the body, and how it avoids corrosion. The steel is also very strong and maintains the integrity of its shape. It also happens to be that this was invented by his grandfather, hence its name, the “Gelpi Retractor.” This is where the trend of minimal redesign and an infatuation with material begins. He accompanied this with the idea of being on earth but having a different experience, referencing Eamse’s Powers of Ten (must watch) and Joseph Kittinger, a man who held the record for the longest sky dive from 31,000 km. Imagine being the first man to witness the curvature of the earth?

Throughout the projects that Nick presents, we see the presence of material obsession. One example, a material I worked with in my studio last fall, is a reworking of the typical cement-aggregate combination. The aggregate portion is replaced with mineralized wood chips of the maleleuca tree, an invasive species in South Florida that was introduced in 1900 and spread to cover 20% of land south of the Lake Okeechobee.[1] (Good idea? I think not.) The addition of the wood allows materials made of the cement to be lighter while still maintaining some of its structural integrity.

Following the theme of reworking what exists, Nick entered a competition hosted by the Wolfsonian to design a table that uses design principles from the Thonet Chair #14. This was the first mass-produced bent wood chair and is a furniture icon. It is a minimal design, with smooth lines and made entirely of wood. He used a six piece formula to develop a table that is amorphous and structurally compelling at the same time.

“I’m not the type of person that thinks way outside of the box, I think near the perimeter.” I think this is credo can be used to understand Nick’s work. The small tweaks can make the most impressive moves. The reimagination of something that already exists, to make it better or use it in a different application.

To see the talk for yourself, visit the CreativeMornings Miami page! I will be reviewing the previous talks on the blog so stay tuned for that too!

I hope to see you all at next month’s Creative Mornings!


notesTo see more JNNS visit my Facebook page and follow my Instagram!

Image sources: Gelpi Retractor, MINIMAL Logo


  • Reply June 11, 2014


    This is great! Jeanne, it’s awesome that you are diving into the cultural pool made possible by Lab Miami and Creative Mornings. For my first time, Creative Mornings was inspiring! Definitely something to look forward to. I am telling my friends all about it!!!!!

  • Reply June 12, 2014


    During studio Gelpi always stressed keeping things simple, it’s no wonder why!

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