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Edward Wormley Furniture

Edward Wormley (USA, 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 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 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 items on these pages demonstrate, Edward Wormley conceived of a subdued sort of modernism, designing furniture that fits into any decorating scheme and does not shout for attention.

Iconic Designs from Edward Wormley
Explore timeless pieces that have earned their place in history.
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Edward Wormley Long John Coffee Table for Dunbar
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Edward Wormley "Long John" coffee table for Dunbar. Made from bleached walnut with attractive grooved planks and sculpted hair pin legs, signed with factory papers.
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Walnut

Edward Wormley for Dunbar Game Table
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Rosewood

Edward Wormley for Dunbar Captain’s Chairs
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Ash

Edward Wormley Dining Chairs for Dunbar
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Dunbar Coffee Table
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Pair of Janus Lounge Chairs by Edward Wormley for Dunbar
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Beautifully restored pair of Janus lounge chairs designed by Edward Wormley for Dunbar. Newly refinished mahogany frames and upholstered in a warm silver satin wool, labeled.
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Edward Wormley Dunbar Sheaf of Wheat
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Classic design "Sheaf of Wheat" side table by Edward Wormley for Dunbar Furniture Company. Very good original condition with a glass top.
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Edward Wormley Brass Bench for Dunbar
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Brass

Edward Wormley for Dunbar Credenza
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Mahogany

Edward Wormley for Dunbar Snack Table
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Mahogany

Trio of Dunbar Armchairs
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Set of three Edward Wormley design armchairs for Dunbar Furniture Company. Smart and sophisticated armchairs completely refinished and newly upholstered in velvet. Sold individual...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Brass

Edward Wormley Dunbar Coffee Table, Model 521
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Edward Wormley Long John Bench for Dunbar
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Walnut

Edward Wormley for Dunbar "Captain Armchair"
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Oak

Edward Wormley for Dunbar Side Tables
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Mahogany

Edward Wormley Lounge Chairs for Dunbar
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Rosewood

Dunbar Tawi Wood Dining Table
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Simply his best design dining table by Edward Wormley for Dunbar. Model 5460 with three 12"in. leaves with case all perfectly restored and labeled.
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Related Items
Edward Wormley Long John Bench for Dunbar
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Walnut

Edward Wormley Dunbar Coffee Table, Model 521
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Edward Wormley for Dunbar Snack Table
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

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Mahogany

Edward Wormley for Dunbar Game Table
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

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Rosewood

Edward Wormley for Dunbar Side Tables
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Mahogany

Edward Wormley for Dunbar Credenza
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Mahogany

Dunbar Coffee Table
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Edward Wormley for Dunbar "Captain Armchair"
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Oak

Edward Wormley for Dunbar Captain’s Chairs
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Ash

Edward Wormley Dining Chairs for Dunbar
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Edward Wormley Brass Bench for Dunbar
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Brass

Edward Wormley Lounge Chairs for Dunbar
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Rosewood

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