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5 inspiring things not to miss on a tour of Sham Shui Po

By Design District Hong Kong Sponsored | 26 February 2021

Long heralded by those in the know as Hong Kong’s coolest district, Sham Shui Po is a treasure trove for creative types. From bustling fabric and craft supplies stalls to design-led stores and cafés, enigmatic shop cats, and community-driven public spaces, there is a new and inspiring surprise waiting behind every corner in Sham Shui Po.

This year, the Hong Kong Design Centre is reimagining the creative haven as “Hong Kong’s living room” as part of the “SSP_People” exhibition from its creative placemaking project Design District Hong Kong (#ddHK). To showcase Sham Shui Po’s strong community spirit and artistic streak, the HKDC has created an “open-air district gallery” of public design installations, collaborations with local shops, and a clowder of cat ambassadors—all of which you can discover on self-guided tours of the district from 6 to 14 March 2021. To get you started, here are five of our favourite inspiring things to explore at “SSP_People.”


A meowvellous mural

While Sham Shui Po is known for its tight-knit community of hardworking, hospitable people, it’s also home to another community—500-plus adorable, beloved shop cats. Also known as “cat shop managers” (貓店長; maau1 dim3 jeung2) in Cantonese, these friendly felines man old-school fabric stalls, trendy cafés, and boutiques throughout the district.

In homage to these industrious animals, Hong Kong artist and illustrator Kristopher Ho created a 20-metre-long moggy mural with the help of young volunteers from Hope of the City.

Find the #ppl_&_meow_dd installation on the exterior of the refuse collection point at the intersection of Tai Nan Street and Boundary Street.


Sham Shui Po stories

As one of the oldest districts in Hong Kong, the streets of Sham Shui Po are full of untold stories. To celebrate the district’s elderly population and offer a glimpse of their everyday lives, social enterprise Project Futurus and Walk in Hong Kong teamed up with young volunteers from “10 Stories 100 Pieces” (Hong Kong Young Women’s Christian Association) and Christian Concern for the Homeless Association (CCHA) on a design installation-cum-cultural exhibition.

Built by volunteers from recycled wooden pallets and paper tubes, the installation features Don Mak’s charming and informative illustrations about the oft-overlooked elderly population, which reveal everything from the demographic’s age distribution to fashion preferences, as well as images of elderly residents’ daily lives by photographer Wong Liang-yih.

Find the #ppl_lean_&_learn_dd installation at Nam Cheong Park, 20 Sham Mong Road.


New w(e)ave

In a nod to the district’s history as the unofficial nerve centre of the city’s textile industry, teachers and students from the HKICC Lee Shau Kee College of Creativity chose to display cold hard data about Sham Shui Po demographics through hand-woven tapestries made with fabric deadstock sourced from local fabric sellers.

The diverse races and ages of Sham Shui Po’s population are all represented by different colours and patterns, which come together to form something new and beautiful; if you pay close attention, you will also notice that the tapestries’ patterns match bird’s-eye views of local public parks.

Find the #ppl_weave_dd installation at Maple Street Playground (entrance on Cheung Sha Wan Road).


The community hub

Inspired by the inclusive and diverse culture of the district, #ddHK’s designers and community partners set up two design installations under the name #ppl_chill_dd at Nam Cheong Street Sitting-out Area, a centrally located 750-metre-long public park and unofficial community gathering spot where people from all walks of life congregate.

Scan the QR code on calligrapher Katol’s hand-drawn signs of multilinguistic phrases to discover a video of real multi-ethnic and -cultural Sham Shui Po locals singing in their native languages; learn about famous figures with ties to Sham Shui Po (like Bruce Lee!) through manga artist Rex Koo’s bold, geometric “Simple People” portraits; marvel at patchwork lanterns made by the community and event organisers out of hundreds of fabric scraps from local textile sellers casting their warmth and cosiness over the park.

Find the #ppl_chill_dd installations at Nam Cheong Street Sitting-out Area No. 5 on Nam Cheong Street.


Bespoke furniture with a twist

In the spirit of embracing the old and the new, volunteers from the YWCA and CCHK worked with 10 local Sham Shui Po shops—from old-school fabric vendors to trendy bicycle stores—to customise and upcycle old furniture and deadstock materials to meet their needs. The volunteers, who learned about design thinking and woodworking during the process, produced 10 entirely one-of-a-kind pieces that marry beauty and practicality.

Find #ppl_upcycle_dd furniture pieces at the following participating shops: Wah Hing Accessories, Hip Yee Hing Embroidery, Alri Star Leather Factory, Kung Chan Cycle, Sun Nga Shing Umbrella Store, Wah Ngai Canvas, Pang Jai at Yen Chow Street Temporary Hawker Bazaar, Wing Fat Store, My Book Room, and Sunrise Photo Co.

Of course, this is just a selection of what Sham Shui Po has to offer—and the best way to experience it all for yourself is through a tour. As part of the “SSP_People” exhibition, #ddHK has created two routes—#ppl_discover_dd, an audio-guided walking route, and #ppl_cycle_dd for experienced cyclists. Starting from 6 March 2021, you can find the official #ppl_discover_dd audio tour on Design District Hong Kong’s website. Explore the featured spots on this curated route while learning about the history of the community, the evolution of local businesses, and other interesting anecdotes!

Fancy taking a souvenir home? Photograph any of the installations from the four public spaces and upload them to your social media account—it has to be publically viewable, so no finstas—and tag @designdistricthk_ddhk and @ssp_ppl. You can then redeem one free set of stickers at Runners’ Foods (available during the exhibition period).

Like what you see? There’s plenty more to come from Design District Hong Kong—we won’t give it all away, but we can share that they have big plans to continue reshaping public spaces in the post-pandemic world, starting with the iconic Victoria Park. Expect more creative, interactive, and thoughtful design installations, from gorgeous green spaces designed to evoke traditional Chinese gardens to creative works inspired by Wan Chai’s history.

In light of the current pandemic situation, the event organiser reserves the right to cancel, postpone or change any details such as dates and formats of all events without prior notice. Please stay tuned to Design District Hong Kong’s website and social media for the latest updates. 

Design District Hong Kong

Design District Hong Kong is a district-based placemaking project which aims to celebrate aspects of authentic local culture that resonates with locals and shows tourists a different side of Hong Kong. Inspired by Hong Kong’s collective culture and its residents’ passion for the city, the community-driven project is envisioned by organisers as a “love letter” to Hong Kong.