Client files, administrative files, artwork, and collected food labels from graphic and industrial designer Francis Mair. Mair specialized in beverage labels and packaging during his many years with Landor Associates in San Francisco. Late in his career, he directed Landor's Museum of Packaging History. His prolific freelance career included designs for furniture, decorative arts, letterhead, and corporate images. His personal artwork included alphabets, typefaces, and sketchbooks. Much of his personal artwork is humorous or erotic.
Scope and Contents:
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).
Collection is arranged into eight series.
Series 1, Professional Materials, 1956-1991, undated
Series 2, Landor Associates Files, 1946-1993, undated
Series 3, Landor Museum of Packaging Antiquities, 1960-1989, undated
Series 4, Freelance Client Files, 1946-1989, undated
Series 5, United States Naval Training School, Radio Chicago, 1943-1945, undated
Sereis 6, Personal Artwork and Designs, 1935-1994, undated
Series 7, Reference Files, 1950-1985, undated
Series 8, Labels, undated
Biographical / Historical:
Francis Marion Mair was born in Streator, Illinois to Alexander Morrison Mair and Jessie C. Williams on May 5, 1916. He began his career as an artist and designer at the University of Illinois School of Design in Chicago receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting in 1938. That year he joined the United States Navy and where he designed visual aids for the Naval Training School in Chicago, Illinois. Even at this early stage in his career, acute design sense and humor are evident in his work. In 1949, he joined Landor Associates in San Francisco, California where he worked for forty years, retiring in 1989. At Landor, he specialized in designing packaging and labeling for beverages. He also was the director of 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. One of his most successful was the Suva line of rattan furniture and decorative objects for Decorative Imports. Mair published articles in Advertising Age, Industrial Design, Advertising Techniques, and Wines and Vines. Mair died on April 29, 1991 in Contra Costa County, California.
Related Archival Materials:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Walter Landor and Associates (AC0500)
NW Ayer Advertising Agenecy Records (AC0059)
Hills Bros. Coffee Company Records (AC395)
Emmett McBain Afro American Adertising Poster Collection (AC0192)
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana (AC0060)
Marilyn E. Jacklear Memorial Collection of Tobacco Advertisements (AC1224)
Marlboro Oral History and Documentation Project (AC0198)
A glass final production version of a French's mustard jar and three hand-carved, solid-wood prototypes for this jar are in the Museum's Division of Work and Industry. These were found in Mair's home studio.
Collection donated by LaVeda Mair, April 23, 1996.
Collection is open for research.
Copyright for a portion of the collection held by the Smithsonian Institution. Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Reproduction permission from Archives Center: fees for commercial use.