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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 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 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
$5,362
Styles
Materials
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
Edward Wormley for Dunbar Tripod Table, 1960
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in Chicago, IL
Edward Wormley for Dunbar Side/End Table, 1960. Tripod drink table. Fully restored/refinished.
Category

1960s Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Wood

Edward Wormley for Dunbar Janus Collection Chest of Drawers, Model 5727
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in DELRAY BEACH, FL
Chest of drawers designed by Edward Wormley for his Janus Collection for Dunbar Furniture. Made of walnut and expertly crafted. Beautiful joinery details on the corners of the cabine...
Category

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

Materials

Brass

Edward Wormley for Dunbar Bracket Back Sofa in Mohair
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in Dallas, TX
Beautifully updated and restored. The iconic bracket back sofa by Edward Wormley for Dunbar. This has been reupholstered in a stunning high-quality mohair from "The Sign". This sofa ...
Category

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

Materials

Mohair, Mahogany

Dunbar Sofa Designed by Edward Wormley
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in Fraser, MI
Dunbar sofa designed by Edward Wormley.
Category

1960s Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Fabric, Mahogany

  • Dunbar Sofa Designed by Edward Wormley
  • Dunbar Sofa Designed by Edward Wormley
  • Dunbar Sofa Designed by Edward Wormley
  • Dunbar Sofa Designed by Edward Wormley
H 30 in. W 80 in. D 31 in.
Mosaic Tile Coffee Table by Edward Wormley for Dunbar, circa 1950s, Signed
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in Los Angeles, CA
This spectacular deep brown walnut coffee table was designed by Edward Wormley for Dunbar, circa 1950s, and features Mid-Century Modern flared legs and golden mosaic tile inlay wrapp...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Glass, Walnut

Pair of Edward Wormley Swivel Lounges and Ottoman for Dunbar
By Edward Wormley
Located in Pawtucket, RI
Pair swivel lounge chairs and rarely seen ottoman designed by Edward Wormley for Dunbar. Model #5609. Mahogany bases with original upholstery. Original fabric is worn and is in need ...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Wood, Fabric

Edward Wormley for Dunbar Walnut Extension Dining Table, Newly Restored
By Edward Wormley, Dunbar Furniture
Located in South Bend, IN
An exceptional Mid-Century Modern extension dining table By Edward Wormley for Dunbar Furniture USA, 1950s Beautifully grained walnut top with sculpted solid walnut base. ...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Walnut

Lovely Pair of Edward Wormley for Drexel Precedent Nightstand Mid-Century Modern
By Edward Wormley, Drexel
Located in Pemberton, NJ
Lovely pair of Edward Wormley for Drexel precedent end tables or nightstands. These pieces are in vintage condition and do show wear to the finish-we recommend refinishing or lacquer...
Category

1940s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Brass

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Edward Wormley Sellers

Edward Wormley furniture for sale on 1stDibs

Edward Wormley's furniture is available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive objects are often made of wood and designed with extraordinary care. In our collection of Edward Wormley furniture there are many options to choose from, although brown editions of this piece are particularly popular. In-stock we have 925 vintage editions of these items, while there is also 0 modern edition to choose from. Many of the original furniture by Edward Wormley were created in North America during the 20th century in the Mid-Century Modern style. If you are looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture by Herman Miller, Milo Baughman and Dunbar. The prices for Edward Wormley furniture can vary depending on size, time period and other attributes. Price for these items starts at $225 and tops out at $42,000, while pieces like these can sell for $6,424.

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