Designer as a profession is nothing new. It is a continuation of certain craftsman traditions, be it in the entertainment business or not, but the visibility and the importance of people who sole purpose is to design for others rose after the Industrial Revolution. Artists and craftsmen fulfilled the role of designers we have nowadays. Government officials were the ones who engineered the service design. For example, during the Black Death’s rampage, the British government made a complete plan to to create a separate graveyard for the plague victims and laid them down in certain way. The same official also designed a method to transport these bodies to the graveyard to begin with, and practically designed the modern street cleaning system in the medieval times. By modern standards these might not sound anything special, but during Dark Ages this kind of things were the absolute apex of service design. Imagine if somebody would put up a service that would start cleaning your streets that are overflowing with faeces and animal intestines. Yes, it would be revolutionary.
And yet we do not call none of these people as designers. They were government officials. To take an extreme example, Da Vinci can be described as a designer of his time. Yes, above all else he was a genius and an artist (in the real meaning of the word, not in the meaning that’s generally used these days) but also an artisan. He designed a lot of things that were ultimately never made, but would’ve worked. Da Vinci really was a man of man talents, so why would we not call him a designer as well?
There has been some opposition from my friends. The idea does not seem to suit them, to call artists and artisans of old as designers. After all, such name or profession never existed. Then we might as well go back and call the dinosaurs are ROAR as the name “dinosaur” did not exist in some 80 million years ago. I do understand why it would feel odd to call someone like him a designer, but he fits the bill quite well. The truth nevertheless is that designer, as a profession, did not exist before Industrial Revolution. Here, by any other name, the rose would smell different.
Designing stems from combination of fine arts and crafts with a twist of all that is service. Names and terms are important, and time shows that while certain things change. We call dinosaurs as dinosaurs, and those who know the language of the dead thunder lizards may call them ROAR still.
P.S. This post was made because I lost another bet. Damn my bad luck.