Do countries need their own creative directors?

We ask Greece’s Chief Creative Officer Steve Vranakis and Helsinki’s Chief Design Officer Hanna Harris why designers and creatives are uniquely placed to help solve some of the problems countries and cities face

Creativity is often hailed as the answer to all our problems, but in reality creatives don’t often get the chance to tackle the big issues – things like infrastructure, city planning, and people’s day-to-day wellbeing. Brands might think they’re making a difference with some of their more socially-focused campaigns, but generally speaking, they’re not effecting change at any large scale either.

So when an opportunity comes along to take creative ownership over an entire city – or even a country – it’s no surprise that people jump at the chance. One of these people is ex-Googler Steve Vranakis, who left his role as Executive Creative Director at Google Creative Lab last year to take on an impressive new job title – that of Chief Creative Officer of Greece.

“What would happen if a country had someone to help guide the government creatively, from a design and creative perspective, across ministries like energy, agriculture, technology and tourism, and then put that together into a really compelling country narrative?” says Vranakis, of his new role. “Stuff only exists because somebody decided it and made it up. Somebody decided that governments should work in a certain way, with a certain type of people and backgrounds. But when we see all the things that can happen via creativity, you then realise the requirement for people from a creative background.”