PolyU’s design school rated among top in the world

The School of Design (SD) of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has made its mark as one of the top 60 design schools in the world, according to the first ever survey of design schools and design programmes conducted by BusinessWeek.

In a special report published in the 9 October issue of BusinessWeek, PolyU’s SD emerged as one of the top four design schools in China and among the 10 best Asian design institutes on the list, which include Tsinghua University’s Academy of Arts and Design, Tongji University and Tama Art University in Tokyo.

Commenting on this excellent rating of SD, Swire Chair Professor of Design and SD Director Prof. Lorraine Justice said: “This most welcome news assures all of us at SD that we are heading in the right direction. Building on Hong Kong’s unique position in China and Asia, we believe good design education and research can help advance the Chinese economy. Indeed, Asian design has the strength, intelligence, functionality and beauty to enhance our lives and I believe SD is helping to make this happen.”

The global top 60 list was compiled basing on the recommendations of a 24-person advisory board set up by BusinessWeek and another 200-plus interviews. On the advisory board are people from corporations like Whirlpool, Siemens and BMW who hire the new design thinking talent; faculty from both design schools and business schools such as Art Centre in California, Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and Stanford in California; recruiters as well as design and innovation consultants.

Among the top 60 design schools worldwide, 34 are in the US or Canada, while the other 26 are from Europe and Asia. (See attached table for details.) The BusinessWeek report says that today’s best and most forward-looking design schools and design programmes share three characteristics in common: namely, their multidisciplinary nature; their synergy with business and engineering schools for innovation; and the breadth and depth of knowledge that their graduates possess.

BusinessWeek reported that at PolyU, as at other Asian universities, design is on the rise as China puts innovation high on its agenda and attempts to move from "Made in China" to "Designed in China". PolyU's Asian Lifestyle Lab and other SD research labs, the report says, are attracting growing interest from global companies such as Philips Design, Yahoo!, Nike and Reebok.

SD is currently headed by Prof. Justice with her 20 years’ experience in teaching design in the US. She is now spearheading design research “as fresh as any programme in the US, with mutidisciplinary partnerships, sponsorship from global companies, and a focus on ethnographic research”, as described in BusinessWeek. This year, she was named one of the Top 40 Designers in the world by ID Magazine in New York City. Last year, SD partnered with PolyU’s Faculty of Business to award joint master’s degrees to 30 students, and this year Tsinghua is adopting a similar curriculum.

PolyU is the pioneer and sole provider of design education at tertiary level in Hong Kong. For more than four decades, SD has groomed thousands of graduates and many famous designers. They include world-renowned fashion designer Ms Vivienne Tam, Oscar-winner and Supervising Animator for Shrek Mr Raman Hui, founder of the jewellery brand Qeelin Mr Dennis Chan, and Partner of Kan & Lau Design Consultants Mr Freeman Lau.

This September, PolyU announced the detachment of SD from the Faculty of Communication to operate as a separate unit, highlighting SD’s special role in design education in Hong Kong and design as niche area of the University.

For more details, see the online reports of BusinessWeek at: http://bwnt.businessweek.com/dschools/2006/ and http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_41/b4004412.htm.

Earlier on, PolyU’s School of Hotel and Tourism Management ranked fourth among the world’s top hotel and tourism schools based on research and scholarship. The ranking was made in a study published in the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research.

Both reports mentioned above serve to re-affirm the capability of the two specialist schools in Hong Kong to achieve world-class excellence.