Skip to main content

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.
A-Frame Chair
A-Frame Chair
Heart Chair
Heart Chair
Applied Filters3 results
Creator:Edward Wormley
Dealer:Weinberg Modern
Clear All
Category
Furniture3
Seating2
Tables1
Item type
3
Price
to
Shipping Options
Style
Period
Color
Material
Availability
Place of Origin
Creator
Display
1938 Dunbar Slipper Bench
By Edward Wormley, Dunbar Furniture
Located in New York, NY
Diminutive and gently curvilinear slipper bench designed by Edward Wormley for Dunbar Furniture. This rarely seen design is shown as model #2425B in the 1938 Dunbar catalog. Newly re...
Category

1930s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Fabric, Wood

Pair of Edward Wormley "Alexandria" Chairs for Dunbar
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in New York, NY
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Silk, Mahogany

Edward Wormley Occasional Table in Chrome and Micarta
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in New York, NY
Category

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

Materials

Chrome, Laminate, Macassar, Walnut

Related Items
Pair of Edward Wormley "Alexandria" Chairs for Dunbar
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in New York, NY
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Silk, Mahogany

Mexican Live Edge Bench in Solid Rosewood
By Hugo França
Located in New York, NY
Category

1960s Mexican Brutalist Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Rosewood

Mexican Live Edge Bench in Sabino Wood
By Hugo França
Located in New York, NY
Category

1960s Mexican Brutalist Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Rosewood

Edward Wormley Occasional Table in Chrome and Micarta
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in New York, NY
Category

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

Materials

Chrome, Laminate, Macassar, Walnut

Large Burled Wood Side Table
By Edward Wormley, Milo Baughman
Located in New York, NY
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Birdseye Maple

Michael Van Beuren Chair for Domus
By Van Beuren, Domus
Located in New York, NY
Category

1940s Mexican Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Pine, Rush

Seat of Four Jacaranda and Leather Chairs from Brazil
By Jorge Zalszupin
Located in New York, NY
Category

1960s Brazilian Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Leather, Jacaranda

Brazilian Lounge Chair in Jacaranda and Brown Leather
By Jorge Zalszupin
Located in New York, NY
Category

1960s Brazilian Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Aluminum, Leather, Jacaranda

Gerald McCabe Slat Settee for Pacific Furniture
By Gerald McCabe, Pacific Iron
Located in New York, NY
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Naugahyde, Chrome, Wood

Brazilian Sofa in Jacaranda and White Leather
By Jorge Zalszupin
Located in New York, NY
Category

1960s Brazilian Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Aluminum, Leather, Jacaranda

Early Ralph Rapson Rocker for Knoll
By Ralph Rapson
Located in New York, NY
Category

1940s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Cotton, Birch

Antonio Salvador Orodea Tile from the 1964-1965 World's Fair
By Antonio Salvador Orodea
Located in New York, NY
Category

1960s Spanish Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Stoneware

More Edward Wormley Furniture