Sure, every passionate young soul dreams of studying in Parson’s, FIT, CSM and Marangoni. But here’s a closer alternative, and it’s got a pretty interesting history, too.
As we paid a visit to the Savannah College of Arts and Design, nestled in one of Hong Kong's shopping districts, Sham Shui Po, we instantly wanted to sign up for a course. From the very first step, we knew, we were entering an art school, as if Andy Warhol had designed it. Upon entering, we were greeted with the letters S, C, A, and D lit up with yellow bulbs against a red and white striped setting. The campus radiates a youthful and vibrant energy coming from every student’s work-filled corner that ironically, is a far cry from the building’s original purpose. SCAD across all its campuses is known for restoring and transforming old structures into educational facilities, which makes the experience even more surreal.
SCAD HK, 292 Tai Po Road, Sham Shui Po
Before the Asian campus became a university in September 2010, SCAD’s decades-old art school was once the North Kowloon Magistracy Building—a court house where people were brought to trial on petty cases like littering, illegal hawking, and prostitution. Seriously.
Please proceed to court room number one.
Today, three of four courtrooms were turned into studios and meeting rooms.
The untouched courtroom.
While one is used for lectures and assemblies.
What was once a parking lot for the judges is now a hip library.
Umm yea, you’ll definitely catch us hiding here.
Welcome to Moot, one of the student lounges in the seven-storey campus.
Is this a caf or that new pseudo hipster coffee shop around the block?
Not your usual bar.
As for the cells where they kept the prisoners before hearings? Well, they are now meeting rooms.
So much history was preserved and it was SCAD who was able to foresee that a place for law breakers could be a suitable venue for learning.
Student Dawn Bey with two pieces from her collection inspired by women road workers called “Detour”.
Dawn Bey, a Singaporean who moved to Hong Kong when she got into SCAD, shared with us why she chose the school. “Every designer would want to prove themselves out of their comfort zone. Hong Kong is such a cosmopolitan city and they’re creating awareness through a lot of exhibitions that even my friends in New York are saying, they don’t even do there.”
Case in point: the school just mounted its first ever Fashion Showcase in Asia, featuring 30 looks from 23 youngsters (6 students and 17 graduates) - a call for Asia’s growing fashion market to watch out.
Carmela Spinneli, a teacher at the school, said, “We are going to feed the design culture here in Hong Kong. We want to dominate,” she said, laughing.
"The world doesn't need another dress." - Carmela Spinneli
Taking cues from New York, Spinneli encourages her students to network. In fact, the school has a very busy career services department that helps students edit their resumes and find the right people they should meet—the kids even get their own business cards. This might explain why 100% of their spring batch of Fashion Marketing and Management graduates in 2013, as well as all their Luxury and Fashion marketing graduates, were employed in labels like McQueen, Alturazza, Kate Spade and Marc Jacobs (or at least accepted into higher levels of education) within just 10 months after graduation.
And as for the cost, it was nice to learn that 75% of their enrollees are in some sort of scholarship.
Aspiring Filipino students can also bask in the fact that Hong Kong is only a two-hour plane ride away—with the option to take other semesters in their universities in the US, France, or online through SCAD eLearning.
A nugget of advice from Miss J, who we spoke with on campus and has been working closely with the school for 15 years: “You don’t have to come from a huge fashion city, but the vision and the fantasy can take you around the world. You can do anything you want.”
For more information, visit scad.edu
Photos by Bea Jocom