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Edward Wormley

American, 1907-1995

As the longtime director of design for the Dunbar furniture company, Edward Wormley was, along with such peers as George Nelson at Herman Miller Inc., and Florence Knoll of Knoll Inc., one of the leading forces in bringing modern design into American homes in the mid-20th century. Not an axiomatic modernist, Wormley deeply appreciated traditional design, and consequently his vintage seating, storage cabinets, bar carts and other work has an understated warmth and a timeless quality that sets it apart from other furnishings of the era.

Wormley was born in rural Illinois and as a teenager took correspondence courses from the New York School of Interior Design. He later attended the Art Institute of Chicago but ran out of money for tuition before he could graduate. Marshall Field hired Wormley in 1930 to design a line of reproduction 18th-century English furniture; the following year he was hired by the Indiana-based Dunbar, where he quickly distinguished himself. It was a good match.

Dunbar was an unusual firm: it did not use automated production systems; its pieces were mostly hand-constructed. For his part, Wormley did not use metal as a major component of furniture; he liked craft elements such as caned seatbacks, tambour drawers, or the woven-wood cabinet fronts seen on his Model 5666 sideboard of 1956. He designed two lines for Dunbar each year — one traditional, one modern — until 1944, by which time the contemporary pieces had become the clear best sellers.

Many of Wormley’s signature pieces — chairs, sofas, tables and more — are modern interpretations of traditional forms. His 1946 Riemerschmid Chair — an example is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art — recapitulates a late 19th-century German design. The long, slender finials of his Model 5580 dining chairs are based on those of Louis XVI chairs; his Listen-to-Me Chaise (1948) has a gentle Rococo curve; the “Precedent” line that Wormley designed for Drexel Furniture in 1947 is a simplified, pared-down take on muscular Georgian furniture. But he could invent new forms, as his Magazine table of 1953, with its bent wood pockets, and his tiered Magazine Tree (1947), both show. And Wormley kept his eye on design currents, creating a series of tables with tops that incorporate tiles and roundels by the great modern ceramicists Otto and Gertrud Natzler.

As the vintage items on 1stDibs demonstrate, Edward Wormley conceived of a subdued sort of modernism, designing furniture that fits into any decorating scheme and does not shout for attention.

Average Sold Price
$5,447
Styles
Materials
Related Creators
Iconic Designs from Edward Wormley
Explore timeless pieces that have earned their place in history.
A Frame Chair
A Frame Chair
Edward Wormley Heart Chair
Edward Wormley Heart Chair
Edward Wormley for Dunbar in Original Striped Fabric
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in Oakland, CA
Edward Wormley for Dunbar daybed in its original striped fabric. A striking fabric with vibrant colors and bold stripes. A simple and clean f...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Brass

Edward Wormley for Dunbar Slipper Chairs, A Pair in Dedar Milano Fabric
By Edward Wormley, Dunbar Furniture
Located in Oakland, CA
Classic slipper lounge chairs designed by Edward Wormley for Dunbar Furniture. These chairs are iconic pieces of mid-century modern design, and are updated with "Tiger Beat...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Fabric, Walnut

Dunbar Furniture Mid-Century Upholstered Three-Seat Sofa
By Edward Wormley, Dunbar Furniture
Located in Ferndale, MI
Mid-Century three seat sofa in a sandy beige and white woven upholstery similar to a boucle. Three down-filled back cushions and three foam seat cushions make this a comfortable and ...
Category

Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Edward Wormley

Materials

Metal

Beige Bouclé Sophia Slipper Chair by Edward Wormley for Dunbar - a Pair
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in Miami, FL
Pair of neutral lacquered mahogany model 5000 or Sophia slipper chairs with tufted seat and back. Newly refinished and reupholstered in a light écru off-white, ivory, sand or bone bo...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Mahogany, Fabric

Executive Desk by Roger Sprunger for Dunbar Mid Century
By Edward Wormley
Located in Bedford Hills, NY
Spectacular Mid Century Parsons Executive desk in Honduran mahogany by Roger Sprunger for Dunbar. Beautifully refinished. Minor repairs at two corners and appear exaggerated in photo...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Mahogany

Dunbar Cocktail Table
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in New York, NY
Dunbar cocktail table designed by Edward Wormley for Dunbar. Coffee table in two tone walnut with lower shelf and brass stretcher. Very good original condition. Very light wear to ...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Brass

Dunbar Cocktail Table
Dunbar Cocktail Table
H 22 in W 48 in D 28 in
Writing Desk By Edward Wormley For Dunbar
By Edward Wormley
Located in St.Petersburg, FL
Beautiful and rare walnut desk designed by Edward Wormley, manufactured by Dunbar ca' 1950's. Single drawer, dark walnut original finish, with nice graining. Edges are raised to give...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Walnut

Petite Vanity/Writing Table with Stool Designed by Edward Wormley for Dunbar
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in Brooklyn, NY
Vintage mahogany vanity/writing table with corresponding naugahyde stool designed by Edward Wormley for Dunbar (ca. 1950s, Indiana, USA). Angu...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Naugahyde, Laminate, Mahogany

Browse all Furniture from Edward Wormley
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Creators Similar to Edward Wormley

More Edward Wormley Designs
A Frame Chair
A Frame Chair
Average Price
$9,955
Number Available
10
A Frame Chair
By Edward Wormley
Materials
Wood, Brass, Mahogany, Metal, Cane, Fabric, Natural Fiber, Animal Skin, Leather, Upholstery
Styles
Mid Century Modern
The Dunbar furniture company and designer Edward J. Wormley (1907–95) transformed American furnishings during the mid-20th century. Both Wormley and Dunbar hailed from the Midwest, and the fruit of their decades-long partnership is characterized by a strong ethos of classical design and the prioritization of well-made materials. Wormley’s foray into design in the mid-1920s has origins in the correspondence course from New York School of Interior Design that he completed as a high school stude...
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Edward Wormley Heart Chair
Edward Wormley Heart Chair
Average Price
$5,838
Number Available
4
Edward Wormley Heart Chair
By Edward Wormley
Materials
Wood, Cane, Fabric, Mahogany, Natural Fiber
Styles
Mid Century Modern
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Edward Wormley furniture for sale on 1stDibs.

Edward Wormley furniture are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive items are frequently made of wood and are designed with extraordinary care. There are many options to choose from in our collection of Edward Wormley furniture, although brown editions of this piece are particularly popular. Many of the original furniture by Edward Wormley were created in the mid-century modern style in north america during the 20th century. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture by Dunbar, Paul McCobb, and Herman Miller. Prices for Edward Wormley furniture can differ depending upon size, time period and other attributes — on 1stDibs, these items begin at $225 and can go as high as $119,500, while a piece like these, on average, fetch $6,846.

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