NYC furniture studio Egg Collective, made up of Stephanie Beamer, Crystal Ellis, and Hillary Petrie, is hosting a new exhibition at their Hudson Square showroom to honor a community that's dear to them. Starring work by local female designers, including Hiroko Takeda, Syrette Lew, and Anna Karlin, "Designing Women" cements the founders' curatorial eye and tastemaker status. While putting on exhibitions and crafting beautiful furnishings are their modus operandi, the group hints that designing interiors is next. If Egg Collective's spaces are anything like the picture-perfect rooms that they share on Instagram, we should have a lot to look forward to from the dynamic trio.
Portrait by Jason Rodgers
Interior Design: What’s been the hardest part of making it as a design studio in NYC?
Crystal Ellis: The expense of real estate. We make big items, so we need a lot of space both for our showroom and for our production facility. When we formed the company, we knew New York was an expensive city to live and work in, but we were much smaller then! We have learned so much since we started—about the industry, management, marketing—but we realize it was our naiveté that gave us the courage to start the business in the first place.
ID: Since your showroom opened, how have you used it as an extension of your brand?
Crystal Ellis: We have always sold our work directly, so it was important to get a proper showroom as soon as we were able. But it has also always been our intention to support other artists and designers. Since opening the space in 2015, we have hosted events semi-annually including artist openings for Tealia Ellis Ritter, Stephen Somple, Hannah Rose Dumes, and Katie Merz.
ID: What benefits and challenges come from producing your products locally?
Crystal Ellis: We cherish the relationships we have formed with our subcontractors around the city. It also allows us the ability to keep our quality control extremely high. However, it is challenging to scale with small fabricators.
ID: What inspired you to organize “Designing Women”?
Crystal Ellis: We wanted to host a show that would bring together our community—specifically female designers operating businesses here in New York City. So, we reached out to our colleagues in the industry, some whom we knew personally and some we didn’t, to gauge interest in participating in an all-women design show. The response was overwhelming positive. The show represents women at all stages in their careers, but who each have a strong voice and well-honed aesthetic.
It also feels important to give back to the larger community, which is why 20 percent of all proceeds with be donated to Girls Inc. We chose Girls Inc. of NYC because they are local and their focus is on the support of girls and women. From a young age women are told that they are not equal to men. We need to encourage women to pursue their dreams, to speak out about their struggles, and to band together for equal rights.
ID: What are some of the show’s highlights?
Crystal Ellis: We've been blown away by the three weavings Hiroko Takeda completed specifically for the show—they must be seen in person!
ID: Where did you grow up, and how did it influence your work?
Stephanie Beamer: We all grew up in the Midwest, however, it was our education in architecture that truly laid the foundation for the work that we are doing today. So many of the tools and critical design thinking that we use were taught to us by the incredible faculty at Washington University in St. Louis.
ID: What are a few recent products?
Crystal Ellis: We are releasing a brand new design, the Isla coffee table, at “Designing Women.” It’s a large amorphous solid wood table top that rest on two large sculptural lacquered wood legs.
ID: A secret source you’re willing to share?
Crystal Ellis: Amazon! We use it get everything, from sparkling water to woodworking tools.
ID: Dream commission?
Stephanie Beamer: We were lucky enough to receive a dream commission early in our career when we were asked to design a permanent seating installation for the New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center. This Philip Johnson–designed space has been an inspiration of ours from early on in our careers, and it was a true honor to design work that would live in the space permanently.
ID: How do the three of you work together?
Crystal Ellis: We are very collaborative. We learned early on that our design processes were complementary. The health of our relationship is the most important thing to our company and to each of us. Lots of people said, “don’t go into business with your friends,” but we couldn’t imagine doing this job any other way. At this point, we can complete each other’s sentences.