Although the graphic design industry was dominated by men in the 1960s, Marget Larsen (1922–1984) forged her own path. She was a designer whose work helped define the San Francisco design aesthetic.
Larsen grew up in Burlingame, California, and worked for Joseph Magnin (JM), a department store known for its trendsetting fashion. The advertising, posters and packaging she created with illustrator Betty Brader-Ashley for the JM brand were so memorable, they are still treasured today. Larsen’s cheery and versatile Christmas boxes were especially popular promotions. Printed with bold typography and ornamentation, the packages were so colorful and appealing that they negated the need for wrapping paper.
Larsen then joined advertising innovator Howard Gossage at Weiner & Gossage. The agency created ingenious ads, such as the wrappers she designed as part of a new look for Parisian Bakery—a groundbreaking use of paper bags as a promotional device. She later partnered with Robert Freeman to open Intrinsics, Inc., which offered clients boutique design services and creative consulting. Larsen’s typographic skills, inventive designs and instinct for what works advanced San Francisco as a center of creativity.
1. Parisian Bakery design program, 1961.
2. Joseph Magnin Christmas packaging, 1963.
3. David’s Delicatessen packaging, 1966. Robert Freeman, art director; Richard Stearns, writer; George Dippel, illustrator.