Joseph Claude Sinel

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Joseph Claude Sinel (27 September 1889 – January 1975), also known as Jo Sinel or "Auckland Jo", was a pioneering industrial designer in the United States.

Sinel was born in Auckland, New Zealand where his father ran a stevedoring operation. He attended the Elam School of Art, then started work as an apprentice in the art department of Wilson & Horton Lithographers, working at the New Zealand Herald from 1904-1909 and studying under Harry Wallace. After a stint in England, he returned to New Zealand and Australia working as a freelance designer, then moved to San Francisco in 1918, where he first worked in advertising, then in 1923 started his own industrial design company in New York City. In 1936, he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Sinel claimed to have designed everything from "ads to andirons and automobiles, from beer bottles to book covers, from hammers to hearing aids, from labels and letterheads to packages and pickle jars, from textiles and telephone books to toasters, typewriters and trucks." Although he is perhaps best remembered for his designs of industrial scales, typewriters, and calculators, he also designed trademarks for businesses such as the Art Institute of Chicago, created book jackets for Doubleday, Knopf, and Random House, and for many years designed publications for Mills College. He taught design in a number of schools in the United States, and in 1955 became one of the fourteen founders of the American Society of Industrial Designers (which later merged with other organizations to form the Industrial Designers Society of America).

Sinel is sometimes said to have coined the term "industrial design" around the 1920s in the USA. Sinel denied the paternity of this term in an interview in 1969.

"... that's the same time [1920] that I was injecting myself into the industrial design field, of which it's claimed (and I'm in several of the books where they claim) that I was the first one, and they even say that I invented the name. I'm sure I didn't do that. I don't know where it originated and I don't know where I got hold of it."[1]

Selected works[edit]

  • American Trade-Marks and Devices, Knopf, 1924.
  • Newspaper Advertising Annual, ed, Saunders Press, 1949.


  1. ^ Sinel, Joseph; interviewed by Robert Harper (1972). Jo Sinel: Father of American Industrial Design. California College of Arts and Crafts. p. 24. 
  • Gifford Jackson, "Right in your eye and in your eye right", first published in Designscape no. 88, February 1977, and republished in ProDesign, April/September 2003.

External links[edit]