Necessary Luxury: Hello Kitty Designer Yuko Yamaguchi

The character designer shares her essentials.

“From the time I was a child, I have loved kawaii, or cutesy, as you Americans call it. The clothes, the products—I was into it even before the creation of Hello Kitty. But it was the response of Hello Kitty’s fans that drove more kawaii being poured into her character. Until the ’70s, the Japanese saw kawaii things as being strictly for children. This business of Japanese adults liking kawaii started in the second half of the ’80s. I do believe that an era is coming when everybody around the world, no matter how old they are, is going to love kawaii. And why not? For me, my Hello Kitty telephone, in regular use since the ’80s, my teddy bear, the scent of white Avalanche roses, and the smell of coffee are, well...so cute!”