Yellow walls, giant gleaming white fiber-glass eggs, yolks and more encompassed “The Egg House” pop-up theatrical immersive experience which opened in New York City on April 7—merely a week after Easter, befittingly. “The Egg House” was interactive installation art the offered visitor’s multi-sensory experiences. It serves as an escape from the city and a celebration of eggs.

“The Egg House” imagined life as it would seem to an egg living in the Lower East Side of Manhattan just like millions of people. The installation featured life-sized rooms in the house of “Ellis the Egg” such as a kitchen, hallway, garden, and even a pool! One afternoon, Ellis falls asleep and that is when visitors arrive to explore its house.

These nosy visitors can check out Ellis’ decor (including several vending machines) and the pool which was filled with balls shaped like caviar (a playful concept since caviar are actually fish eggs). In each room, guests can attain free token souvenirs and purchase [VIDEO] egg-flavored treats from vendors that are dispersed throughout the fluorescent and joyfully pop-art setting. The garden area is one of the most interesting, since it contains a peep-hole into a secret room which then leads to the very technology-driven bedroom.

Ellis the Egg is an adorable and unique character and the imagination behind his storyline (such as him being born of a sunny-side flower) is truly inspiring. Ellis even has an Instagram account called @theegghouse that features photos of Ellis’ daily life. The Egg House brilliantly incorporated sights, smells, and sounds into a 3,000 square-foot space and involves local vendors with the distribution of the food (including free eggnog or coffee) and even featured a gift shop that offered many egg-shaped “eggcessories” items such as tote bags, jewelry, patches, pins, and more.

Although the installation has come to a close in NYC, it is set to open in China in 2019. Recently, “The Egg House” creator Biubiu Xu (who is also the owner of a tea store) granted an exclusive interview discussing the creation of this internationally successful project and future plans.

Eggs, installation, and reactions

Meagan Meehan (MM): You live and work in NYC and planned this installation as an escape. So, how did you go about getting the funding, space, and all the decor sorted out and how long did it take to put together?

Biubiu Xu (BX): I got the funding from a long-time friend of mine. We saw a few venues and made a quick decision on 195 Chrystie St. I got to know a broker who is a friend of a friend so he quickly locked down the space for us. The interior was also designed by my friends who are interior designers graduated from Pratt. We received the keys just before April so we had only less than two weeks to put everything together. We barely had any sleep during that time; we were painting the walls and installing the installations day and night.

MM: Did you intentionally open this installation in April, right after the egg-cellent holiday of Easter?

BX: No, we did not, but we felt very lucky that the two events coincided and that we were able to leverage Easter for promotion!

MM: What did you choose eggs as a theme and how long did it take you to map out each room? Also, what was your favorite part of the exhibit?

BX: Egg is so versatile--it can be cute and sensual. It's also very relatable and universal--every culture and country has it and almost everyone grew up eating it. The color of egg, yellow, also stands out. It initially took us 1 month to map out each room, and it kept evolving as we did more research. My favorite part of the exhibit before it opened was The Bedroom; it allows more intimate interaction between the visitors and the main character. After it opened, my favorite would be The Pool. Our visitors get so creative with the balls and seeing their laughs is the most blissful thing in the world.

MM: Was any part of the installation especially tricky and how did you use technology to make the bedroom so awesome that you kept it a secret prior to opening?

BX: Because this is the first time we've done a pop-up, we weren't very experienced at using the more endurable materials to handle the heavy traffic; so, we had to constantly fix and clean the installations, such as the cotton-made cloud, the ball pit, and the foam-made eggs.

We worked with an interactive technology team Objectseen to project light on the 3D egg from above so that its facial expression changes every few seconds.

MM: What sorts of reactions did you get from people who visited the house and approximately how many guests arrived in total?

BX: People get so excited and creative with our space. They do handstands against our logo walls, jump into The Pool, and throw our eggs in the air. They usually come in pairs or groups so the space is always full of energy and laughter.

MM: Ellis the Egg is adorable; how did you think up his backstory and might you do more with him in the future?

BX: Since the original idea was a house, we wanted a real character and a cohesive storyline to connect everything together. Because the pop up started in New York, we turned Ellis into a person-like character who came from the other side of world settling down in New York. Later when we bring him to other cities like LA, the storyline will evolve as well; Ellis might decide to travel one day and fall in love with that city.

Social media, China, and tea shops

MM: How important was the role of social media in “The Egg House”?

BX: Very important. Our own account @theegghouse acts like a platform which showcases the space and customers. User-generated photos are big catalysts which spread out words (images) very fast among the friends. Social media allows the popup to become viral.

MM: You are now preparing to host this exhibit in China, so how did that incredible opportunity come about?

BX: I'm Chinese and so are a lot of my coworkers for this project. Knowing that there's a huge market in cities like Shanghai and Beijing in China, we actively approached the market.

MM: In NYC you made sure to involve local businesses and vendors who provided food, goodies, etc., to the installation. So, will you do that again in China and will the menu be much different?

BX: We will absolutely do it again and also improve the food and merchandises, only that those will better accommodate Chinese customers' aesthetics and tastes. For example, in our branding, we have not only an illustration of an egg but also a bun, which is a typical breakfast item for Shanghainese.

MM: You are also planning to open a tea shop here in NYC, so will that have any special theme or decor?

BX: It's already opened! As you can see from the Instagram account @cteanyc, the theme is also millennial-driven. But it's more airy and minimalistic and airy compared to The Egg House.

MM: Will you create more installations in addition to “The Egg House” in the future?

BX: Yes, we will. We already have another theme in mind. Stay tuned! We wanted to bring The Egg House to as many cities as possible!