A warm welcome to Shanghai Jiao Tong School of Design!

As a student in this school, you will qualify as either an architect, urban designer, landscape architect, industrial designer, visual communication artist or environmental art designer. Designers are responsible for the conceptualisation, construction and service of human habitat. Things we use – from a piece of jewellery, a phone, an app to a car or an aeroplane, and the built and virtual environments that accommodate human activities – from a room, a building, a park, a mega city such as Shanghai to cyber space, together constitute human habitat. Our relationship with products and space, as well as the culture and ambience of a place, too, are part of human habitat. As for the comprehensiveness of education here, this school is one of the very few in the world.  

A designer alone, without the input from engineers, scientists, historians, philosophers, artists, administrators and politicians, is unable to undertake such complex tasks. Design is multi-disciplinary, but a designer plays a special role. The fundamental concern of a designer is the meaningful relationship between humans and our habitat. Through design we aim to make a world that enshrines the good life. Sustainability, in our time especially, is the moral bedrock of this role.

Design, tout court, is a craft of enchantment. Knowledge from relevant fields provide the nutrition, but it is through the enigmatic synthesis, called design, that the transformation of ideas and technology into a beautiful artefact occurs. A craft is honed through apprenticeship, no different from learning to play a violin or training to become a surgeon. The core course in all design fields is design studio, where one-to-one teaching and learning evolve.

A distinctive character of design education lies also in the duality of the School community, which comprises some of the most accomplished academics and practitioners. A supreme school of design combines academic research with practice. Confucius said: “From time to time, we practice what we have learned. Ah, is this not happiness?” China’s fine tradition of the scholar-official and the Western humanist ideal of living a contemplative as well as active life strike a chord. This may seem natural for design education, but it is distinctive in this school for such duality is consciously embedded in our teaching, research and the work we produce. Either as a student or academic, in this school you ought to be both a thinker and a doer.    

A Shanghai Jiao Tong education does not merely prepare you for a future career in design. The spirit of this university and its charged history are matched by the expectation of its graduates: they aspire to become superior academics, nation builders, enterprise leaders and cultural elites. Your design craft and the capacity to think via design will help lay a sound pathway to meet and exceed the university’s expectation.

I look forward to seeing you in the School.

Xing RUAN, 

Dean and Guangqi Chair Professor of Architecture