Valedictory Speech of The 24th PolyU School of Design Congregation (Second Session)

Graduate Representative: Mr POON Cheuk Hei Ryan

Good afternoon, my name is Ryan. It is my honour to be a representative of the graduating class this year.

The first thing that I would like to say is congratulations! We have finally graduated. Do you still remember the moment when you received an offer letter with “Congratulations! We are pleased to offer you admission to The Hong Kong Polytechnic University”? 

It was good news at the time, and now we have even better news: we have graduated! 

Do you remember our life in Hell? Design, Eat, OK, and repeat. 

Remember working endless days and nights without good sleep? Endless projects and enormous deadlines proved that. However, studio life formed strong bonds, and allowed us to support one another like a loving family. During those sleepless nights, we shared cup noodles, ideas and opinions and we shared brotherhood and support. 

Classmates, we are not only worked in, but lived in the studio. There is something special when creative people get together. Eating together, laughing together and doing silly things together. We studied software skills, and also cracked software skills. We are now not just friends, but very close friends. When we got lost, you had a hand on our shoulder and said: “you are not alone”.

Tutors, Thank you for giving us different perspective to see the world. This will help us radically change how we go about exploring ideas and creating solutions to problems. You kicked us out from the comfort zone. No panic, Titanic. We went deeper than we usually would. We might even have been able to get a significantly better result, with much effort. 

Parents, I promise again to go back home and not to skip dinner before a presentation. Family or home is a place that makes you feel relieved and reminds you that there is always a place you can go back to. 

I wish to extend a huge thank you to Pinterest and Youtube for brainstorming material. 

In secondary school, we faced test and exams. But at the School of Design, we did not have an exact schedule. No one told us what to do or how to do it. Even tutors won’t tell you what to do next. We need to figure out problems by ourselves. 

We stayed up all night long on one design concept. And we created nothing. Yet that kind of nothing creates something all the time. We sketched, drew, and brainstormed so we could start to understand how all things come together, to make a better design. There is no such design as a good or bad one, but in one word, “appropriate”. 

We, School of Design students, believe in brewing. Design takes time and is achieved by heart. 

Brewing is a long process – through years of experience. Every drop of wine tells the story of how numerous brewing experiences are accumulated through the passage of time. 

The action of brewing can well be taken as a metaphor for the process of designing: from research to ideation, from initial attempts to repeated refinements, just like winemaking in which the best materials are selected, prepared, fermented and the taste adjusted, every step is critical to the final outcome. Therefore, we as future designers aim high with deep consideration. 

God is in the details. In order to produce the best brew, brewers pay effort to search for top quality ingredients, pay full attention to details, keep appropriate timing for the entire process and test the result repeatedly until it turns out to be the finest. 

The process is torturous, as it may loop forever and guarantee no fruitful results, and at the same time it is addictive to many of us, as it is adventurous, contemplative, transcending and romantic. Designers dedicate themselves fully and truly to it. 

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist after he grows up,” said Pablo Picasso. 

Become a child again! It is the best way to brew a fresh creative idea on the road of creativity. When we were children, we were excited about our world. We kept learning, observing, creating new things. However, our ability to learn new things deteriorates from time to time. We stop asking questions to explore. We only focus on those things that are relevant to us and become narrow minded. 

Dear graduates, I hope you can keep learning new things around you, no matter whether you are in an educational or working environment. There are plenty of wonderful things waiting for you to explore. The future is in our hands. At the same time, don’t forget to keep creating and sharing new things to our world. 

Tomorrow’s successes will depend on our ability to tolerate ambiguity and, as always, upon our powers of imagination, creativity and intuition. I am confident that, as a collective community, we can come together and bring forth a brighter future through design.

Congratulations to all of you once again. Thank you!