Manchester City Council has appointed Peter Saville as its creative director, the first time a British city has created a senior creative position with a long-term remit.
According to Manchester-born Saville, the role involves ‘acting as an image consultant to the city’ in a bid to position it firmly among the major global cities of the world.
‘The city isn’t competing with London, Paris or New York, but it’s also not looking over its shoulder to Sheffield or Leeds. It’s a global marketplace and Manchester needs to be competing with places like Barcelona and Oslo,’ he says.
The first phase of the work will be exploratory, says Saville, who was selected from a shortlist of seven names, as exclusively revealed by Design Week (DW 4 March).
‘There are some clearly defined issues and the objective is also quite clear – improving the quality of life for people who live in Manchester,’ he adds.
Saville will act as council advisor, steering ‘business- and politically-focused people’ on what is ‘contemporary and appropriate’.
Other designers are likely to benefit from the appointment as Saville says his role is about idea generation, not implementation.
‘Cities often lack coherence in design-based projects. My role is to co-ordinate them as you would in a big company. I’m not attempting to be hands-on,’ he says.
Saville is due to deliver proposals to the council in June.
Susan Hunt, director of Manchester City Council’s marketing communications unit, says Saville was chosen on the strength of his understanding of what it takes to make a world city and his passion for Manchester.