HAPPENINGText: Samantha Culp

“What if you could follow her daily routine, see what she sees, hear what she hears, share a part of her life inside yours?” This quote comes from the website of Hong Kong’s hottest design event of the season, and the all-important she is, of course, Hello Kitty.

Following up on last year’s wildly popular “Hide and Seek with Hello Kitty and Friends,” Sanrio offers another exhibition to give the HK public intimate access to one of its favorite icons. This time around, visitors are invited to enter Hello Kitty’s “Secret House” and “experience the secret of Hello Kitty fantasies.” Since the attraction opened in July, thousands of eager Hello Kitty fans, young and old, have been heading to the HITEC convention center in Kowloon Bay for a pilgrimage of sorts.

After purchasing or picking up tickets, guests must wait for nearly an hour in various lines, and are instructed by signs and overzealous guards of the slightly surprising house rules. No eating or drinking-a common enough regulation. But “no photography”? This came as a bit of a shock in snap-happy Hong Kong, and in such an obvious “spectacle” space that most visitors expect to photograph. Slowly, however, the line moves along the dark corridor, and one almost forgets the photo-disappointment when the doors of the Secret House swing open at last.

At first, we are indeed in Hello Kitty’s house. A conceptual house. A free-standing waterfall in an outline of Kitty’s body, green Astroturf and theatrical black-painted walls, and “living rooms” comprised of overstuffed sofas and chintz wallpaper. Black and white photographs of the Kitty family through the ages adorn the walls, while a large male-looking cat plush sits in one chair smoking a pipe (Kitty’s father? We still weren’t sure). But be careful-don’t touch!

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