The Most Creative Cities on Earth

The Most Creative Cities on Earth
8 minutes read. September 27th, 2019.


Consistent, trendsetting creative output has led to Tokyo establishing itself as one of the world’s leading innovative cities. According to a study by Adobe, Tokyo is home to 12 times more creatives than any other Japanese city (LINK). The Japanese capital has also benefited from a rise in communal working spaces, allowing the city’s innovators to create, share and collaborate in an increasing number of environments. In short, Tokyo’s creative scene is thriving.

Designart Tokyo is an annual festival which aims to exhibit creative talent from both Japan and overseas. From design and architecture to music, technology and even cuisine, the event is growing more popular by the year and is securing Tokyo’s status as a multicultural creative hub. Designart Tokyo takes place in October and is sandwiched in between Tokyo Fashion Week and the Tokyo Motor Show, so if you’re looking to enjoy the latest and most cutting-edge creative output that Japan has to offer, there’s no better time to visit.

For people on the lookout for creative inspiration, visiting Tokyo is a no-brainer. The city is a perfect fusion of the historical and the advanced – where shrines and temples meet neon lights and state-of-the-art tech. The urban landscape of Tokyo is a maze to manoeuvre through, which is all part of the fun. And once you’ve found your bearings, you can start to enjoy the city’s creative offerings.

If you’re looking for something that completely encapsulates Tokyo’s techy reputation, there are a number of virtual reality experiences dotted around the city, such as VR Ninja Dojo. Opened in March 2019, the attraction teaches visitors real-world ninja training before placing them in a virtual environment to test their newfound skills. Those interested in more serene forms of creative output might want to check out the Ota Memorial Museum of Art, which houses one of the world’s largest collections of Ukiyo-e (a form of Japanese art involving woodblock printing).

3 places to find creative inspiration in Tokyo: Designart Festival (18th-27th October 2019), VR Ninja Dojo, Ota Memorial Museum of Art


Now established as one of the major design capitals of Europe, a great deal of Berlin’s creative output has emerged in response to the city’s historical struggles. The East Side Gallery, commissioned in 1990 and exhibited on a remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall, is one of the largest open-air galleries in the world and proudly displays over a hundred paintings celebrating the reconciliation of the once divided city. On the western side of the wall and across the river Spree, colourful urban art provides a striking contrast to the city’s industrial backdrop. The district of Kreuzberg is home to a series of activist wall murals, some of which date back to the 1970s.

The low cost of living makes Berlin ideal for young and emerging creatives. Thousands of design students flock from around the globe to attend one of the city’s five arts universities and soak up Berlin’s unique and diverse cultural scene. Projekt Zukunft, a local government strategy which aims to cement and promote Berlin’s role as a global creative powerhouse, runs regular events and campaigns in an effort to boost the city’s creative stock.

Those who appreciate historical art should head over to Museum Island in Mitte. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the museums situated there exhibit a range of creations including paintings, sculptures and antiques, some of which date all the way back to pre-history.

3 places to find creative inspiration in Berlin: East Side Gallery, Kreuzberg Wall Murals, Museum Island

Cape Town

With a population of almost 4 million, Cape Town places great weight on harnessing the creative talents of its residents in order to improve areas of the city. With special focus given towards solving urban problems for residents, the city collaborates with its fellow UNESCO City of Design members to share solutions which address sustainability. One recent venture, the 10x10 Low-Cost Housing Project, involved the design and production of affordable and sustainable homes as an answer to the city’s need to house poorer urban residents.

The housing project was orchestrated by Design Indaba, a local institution which targets the development of ‘a better world though creativity’. The annual Design Festival Indaba exhibits a range of disciplines including product design, graphic design, fashion, architecture and furniture design. Attracting over 10,000 visitors, the festival allows creative professionals to share the methods they use to innovate though a series of exhibitions and events.

The influence that creativity has on Cape Town’s culture is clear for all to see. The Old Biscuit Mill, a village consisting of markets, workshops and stalls, showcases the best of what local creatives have to offer, all within the confines of a 19th century factory. The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, located on the banks of Table Bay, is the largest museum of contemporary African art in the world. Last on the agenda is a trip to Woodstock, a suburb situated on the outskirts of Cape Town. With many of its buildings playing host to colourful and impressive wall murals, Woodstock is a street art lover’s paradise.

3 places to find creative inspiration in Cape Town: The Old Biscuit Mill, Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Woodstock

Buenos Aires

Argentina’s capital city is showing promising signs of creative growth. A 2016 report by UNESCO stated that Buenos Aires’ creative industries sector grew by 89.1% between 2004 and 2012. The city is committed to promoting creative expression amongst local communities too, as can be witnessed first-hand when strolling through the strikingly colourful neighbourhood of La Boca. A popular attraction for visitors, the area is jam-packed with buildings that are awash with vibrant, kaleidoscopic street art.

The Metropolitan Design Centre is located in the southeast district of Barracas. Opened in 2001, it aims to manage various disciplines of design to promote the cultural importance of creativity. Barracas is a hotbed of urban art and boasts the longest mural in the world painted by a single artist, ‘El Regreso de Quinquela’ by Alfredo Segatori. A series of street mosaics and wall art led to the government launching a program which aimed to improve the neighbourhood’s appearance and reputation. The Design District was born and Barracas soon became home to buildings painted with the kind of vivid, psychedelic facades that make other cities appear lifeless and bland by comparison.

3 places to find creative inspiration in Buenos Aires: La Boca, Metropolitan Design Centre, Barracas Design District

New York

There’s no other way to end our trip than with the creative capital of the world. They say it’s impossible to get bored in New York City, which quite frankly makes it all the more difficult to know where to begin our creative overview.

New York is a world leader in the arts – from advertising to architecture, from fashion to graphic design, from music to performing arts, the city that never sleeps is a creative juggernaut. The Big Apple’s creative sector is a huge economic asset for the USA, with around 10% of America’s creative sector jobs based in New York City alone. Despite the eye-wateringly high cost of living (the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment is around £2000), thousands travel to New York each year to kickstart their creative careers.

Visitors to the city are faced with a seemingly endless list of museums, from the MOMA to the Guggenheim in Manhattan, all the way to the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens. A walk from mid to lower Manhattan offers the chance to sample the wide range of the city’s creative output: Head-turning architecture such as St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Flatiron Building rise up out of every avenue. The draw of Broadway’s live entertainment shows is inescapable. And let’s not forget the distinctive neighbourhoods and districts, including Greenwich Village and Chelsea, the latter of which is home to The High Line, a park built on an abandoned railway line above street level. If you’re looking to take a breather away from the bustle of the sidewalk, the High Line represents an ideal chance to stop and revel in New York’s creative output.

3 places to find creative inspiration in New York: The Museum of Modern Art, The High Line, Broadway

Looking to go on a creative journey with a full-service agency? Get in touch with our team today.

Spread the word, share the love, pass it on. If you like this article, feel free to share using the handy link below.

Wanna get in touch?

The Most Creative Cities on Earth

Paul Hough

Creative Director

Get in touch with me