Artist and designer. B.F.A. in Painting, University of Illinois School Of Design in Chicago, 1938). Joined the Navy in 1938, designed visual aids for the Naval Training School in Chicago. Joined Landor Associates, San Francisco, 1949 and worked for 40 years, retiring in 1989. At Landor, he specialized in packaging and labeling beverages; also director of the Landor's Museum of Packaging History, which shared quarters with Landor Associates on the Ferryboat Klamath. Throughout his career, Mair took on diverse freelance projects, such as the Suva line of rattan furniture and decorative objects for Decorative Imports. Published articles in Advertising Age, Industrial Design, Advertising Techniques, and Wines and Vines. His personal artwork included alphabets, typefaces, and sketchbooks, and is often humorous or erotic.
The collection consists largely of client files and artwork from Mair's years with Landor Associates and his freelance design work. Mair's specialty was the design of beverage containers, labels, and packaging, and there is a significant body of material produced for West Coast and national breweries and wineries. Mair also managed Landor's Museum of Packaging Antiquities, and there are several boxes of the Museum's administrative files. Of particular interest is Mair's large collection of historical and contemporary wine, liquor, and fruit crate labels (both foreign and domestic). The labels seem to have served as an inspiration and a record of his work, as well as documentation of historical packaging for the Museum. Mair's freelance clients were diverse, though most of them were small businesses and organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to food and beverage labels, these commissions included posters, promotional materials, letterhead and personal announcements, invitations, and cards. Lastly, the collection includes personal artwork and records of entrepreneurial projects (such as the Flexigon, a flexible geometric toy).
Francis M. Mair Papers, 1938-1990, Archives Center, National Museum of American History. Gift of LaVeda Mair