To achieve her dream of founding the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in 1978, President Paula Wallace chose to sell many treasured family possessions, including her beloved yellow Volkswagen Beetle, the model commonly known as the “Bug”.
According to Khoi Vo, Vice President of SCAD Hong Kong, who moved to Hong Kong in May last year, the significance of that gesture has not been forgotten.
“The memory of that iconic car represents the spirit of SCAD,” he says, adding that Bug-inspired images and designs feature at numerous campus events as a reminder that “your dreams can take you anywhere”.
Before coming to Hong Kong, Vo was a professor in SCAD’s Interior Design Department at the Savannah campus, a post he had held since 2009. As Chair of the department, he and his team achieved the unprecedented feat of becoming number one in the Designintelligence rankings for both undergraduate (2012-16 and 2018) and graduate (2012-2014, 2016 and 2018) interior design programmes.
Therefore, it should be no surprise that, in today’s job market, SCAD degrees are in high demand. This is especially so in areas which call for imaginative and critical thinking, problem-solving skills, an innovative approach to design, and an understanding of the power of storytelling.
Vo emphasises that SCAD students receive a comprehensive education in different aspects of art and design. The courses are intellectually rigorous, student-centred, and focus on meeting professional standards. The curriculum is regularly updated and adapted to include new concepts and to ensure students can achieve their dreams of a career in the creative field.
Besides that, SCAD Hong Kong recently introduced a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in User Experience (UX) design while SCAD Savannah has launched three new degree programmes in Immersive Reality; the Business of Beauty and Fragrance; and Social Strategy and Management.
According to Vo, his aim in Hong Kong is to focus on three particular pillars. One is to give students diverse career options by building strong, positive relationships with the art and design world. This will strengthen the bridge between SCAD, potential employers in Hong Kong and global industry leaders.
In addition, he wants to maintain a long-standing commitment to the community, especially through the SCADpro program, which is committed to nurturing artistic expression and enhancing opportunities for collaboration. Recent examples include a streetwear collection in collaboration with Disney to celebrate Mickey Mouse’s 90th birthday. SCAD students also teamed up with the MTR Corporation as part of the “Art in MTR” scheme to visually transform the Sham Shui Po station.
Crucially, he plans to continue to raise the bar in terms of academic excellence, with new programmes developed by SCAD faculty members and co-operating with global leading partners such as Google.
As SCAD celebrates its 40th birthday and by reflecting on its humble beginning, it continues to look to the future. With more than 40 majors and 70 minors, the curriculum is constantly evolving in response to the changes in the professions that graduates expect to enter.