It may never be the Museum of Ice Cream, but a new pop-up installation in a Lower East Side storefront starring one “incredible edible” food isn’t striving to be egg-ceptional.
The Egg House, a three-month-long pop-up playground for Instagrammers and kids that hatches Saturday, was designed as the fantasy house (and realistic bedroom) of an egg character creators say embodies the average New Yorker.
“We didn’t have the character at the beginning,” says curator Vivian Cai, 30, a Parsons graduate from Beijing. “I just wanted to represent everyone, a normal person,” because in her adopted city, “you can be anyone: You can be important or not important. It all depends on you.”
Yolk-colored walls and floors greet you when you step into the “foyer” of the space at 195 Chrystie St. To your right, an immediate photo-op greets you: a yellow neon sign that announces whose house you’re visiting, fluffy “fried egg whites” suspended above and orange balloons you can yank down to position as yolks.
Advance and you enter the kitchen, with a refrigerator painted on one wall, an arrangement of bubblegum pink spatulas suspended from the ceiling, half of an egg shell that spins on the floor, and a human-sized carton that invites you to pose among giant, white eggs.
If chicken eggs aren’t your thing, pass through a trippy “hallway” (painted with distorted black and white stripes), pick up some egg-themed eats from the counter on your left, and behold the “pool” of yellow and white roe.
It should be no surprise that this interactive fixture, framed by two silver palm trees, resembles the Museum of Ice Cream’s infamous swimming pool of rainbow sprinkles, which incurred fines when the installation opened in Miami.
A visit to the millennial Disneyland planted the original ovum in founder BiuBiu Xu’s head, she says.
“That was the first time I realized how popular the museum can be,” says Xu, a Shanghai native and accounting student who is funding the Egg House project with a partner. Eggs may not be as widely appealing as ice cream, but they’re “universal” and “so versatile that everyone can relate to it,” she says.
The idea lay dormant for two years, while Xu visited 30 countries across several continents and fell for frittatas in Latin America, but she’s egg-ecuted it over the past few months with assistance from her friend Cai, an interior design team of recent Pratt graduates, and a cheery group of 20-something “docents,” dressed in bright yellow t-shirts and fried egg-inspired swag.
One such employee tells us we have to take our shoes to stand on the pool’s styrofoam perimeter. (Which you’re going to need to do, if you want to take a decent shot of your friend or a random influencer throwing plastic balls up into the air or pretending to paddle through them.)
Once you’ve taken as many Boomerang videos as your phone can handle, head through the door in the back wall for more food that definitely won’t be eggs in their purest form (on Friday, Eggloo was serving its Hong Kong-style egg waffles with ice cream), and a tour of the “bedroom.”
This compact space intrigued us the most, in part because no smartphone will manage to take a crisp shot in such dim lighting. It’s outfitted with a bed, a desk, a side table constructed from pizza boxes and fake windows (illuminated by footage of passersby in Union Square) and furnished with all the paraphernalia of New York City life. A projector casts eyes onto the oversized egg sitting atop the bed, a.k.a “Ellis,” whose peepers pop open when a gibberish recording plays on a mock answering machine.
“Ellis Island is the first stop for immigrants to come to New York,” Cai says, explaining the origins of the genderless, every egg’s moniker. “So that’s why we give him [or her] a name, and he can still represent everyone, because most people in New York, they are immigrants, they come from all over the world.”
Like most city folks, Ellis dreams big dreams in a tiny living space. Downstairs, resting in his or her subconscious, you’ll discover a “garden” with hedges made from hundreds of yoga balls, inflated by Xu and crew themselves, neon-illuminated cacti and an egg shell swing that may or may not be dangerous. (A woman posing for photos cried out in pain when she leaned a little too far back, onto the shell’s jagged edge.)
Should you spend $18 on admission to Ellis’ fantastical home? (Naturally, it’s extra for items like the $6 fried egg-shaped white-chocolate lollipops, and egg-themed merchandise like tote bags, socks, jewelry and smartphone cases, but there will be some edible samples catered by Break & Co.) We can’t decide that for you, any more than we can dictate how you like your eggs cooked. If you’re all about the Eggs Benedict at brunch, we’re betting yes, if you’re the simple, hard-boiled at home type, probably not.
And if you reconsider after the museum closes up shop, you can always travel, like Xu. The founder and Cai plan to take their museum on tour in the U.S. and abroad, altering it in every city to accommodate local egg preferences.
The Egg House will be immersing visitors in New York’s favorite breakfast food at 195 Chrystie St. from April 7 through June 27. Buy your tickets in advance here.