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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 — 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
$6,036
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 Pair of '5609' Swivel Chairs in Mahogany and Fabric Upholstery
By Edward Wormley
Located in Waalwijk, NL
Edward Wormley, swivel lounge chairs model 5609, fabric, mahogany, United States, 1950s These swivelling lounge chairs by Edward Wormley feature are a combination of a traditional d...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Fabric, Mahogany

Dunbar Daybed/Sofa by Edward Wormley, 1960
By Edward Wormley, Dunbar Furniture
Located in Chicago, IL
Dunbar Daybed sofa by Edward Wormley, 1960. Daybed has brass legs and new white boucle with leather strapping.
Category

1960s Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Brass

Edward Wormley Constellation Table for Dunbar
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Edward Wormley design constellation side table for Dunbar Furniture, USA. Elegant little table perfect for drinks with a laminate top inlaid with wood circles to immitate stars. Spla...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Laminate, Mahogany

Long Angle Arm Sofa by Edward Wormley for Dunbar, Off White, Completely Original
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in Kansas City, MO
Completely original angle arm floating sofa designed by Edward Wormley for Dunbar. One owner, rarely used. No tears, holes or repairs to the of white, neutral fabric. The leg support...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Upholstery, Mahogany

Mid-Century Modern Edward Wormley for Dunbar X-Long Mahogany Bench, 1950s
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in Keego Harbor, MI
Le Shoppe Too presents this beautiful Edward Wormley for Dunbar x-long mahogany wood bench, professionally reupholstered and refinished. In excellent condition. Dimensions: 65.5" W x...
Category

1950s Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Mahogany

Glass "Low" Table by Edward Wormley, Manufactured by Dunbar, USA 1950's
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in New York, NY
Designed by Edward Wormley and manufactured by Dunbar. USA, 1950's. A prime example of American Mid-Century design. Soft and subtle geometric form with wood + brass finishes that...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Brass

Midcentury Chest of Drawers by Edward Wormley for Dunbar
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in BROOKLYN, NY
Edward Wormley for Dunbar pair of dressers model 4102. "3500 Series" Each cabinet has 5 drawers with recessed pulls. Chest frame has subtle rounded corners on a leather plinth base. ...
Category

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

Materials

Wood

Modern Morris by Edward Wormley Designed for Dunbar, 1940s
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Offered here is a Modern Morris lounge chair by Edward Wormley, designed for Dunbar circa 1940s. Sculptural continuous laminated Mahogany frame, joined by two steel rods which in tu...
Category

1940s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Steel

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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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