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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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Creator:Edward Wormley
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Edward Wormley for Dunbar Split Arm Sofa with Walnut Base
By Edward Wormley
Located in Pasadena, TX
Edward Wormley Wormley has pioneered in a broad field of design, he was one of those unique designers who was sensitive to the interplay involved in selling modernism and still pr...
Category

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

Materials

Walnut

Midcentury 101in Model 488 Sofa by Edward Wormley for Dunbar
By Edward Wormley
Located in Pasadena, TX
Category

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

Materials

Fabric, Down

Edward Wormley for Dunbar Mahogany Adjustable Headboard Restored
By Edward Wormley
Located in Pasadena, TX
Category

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

Materials

Mahogany

6ft Vintage Midcentury Wormley Dunbar Party Sofa
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in Pasadena, TX
Category

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

Materials

Velvet

1 Wormley Drexel Precedent Dresser
By Edward Wormley
Located in Pasadena, TX
Edward Wormley (1907-1995) created many classic furniture designs throughout the 40s, 50s, and 60s for Dunbar and later Drexel. After working for Dunbar for 14 years he opened his ow...
Category

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

Materials

Elm

Midcentury #5526 Wormley Dunbar Armless Sofa
By Edward Wormley
Located in Pasadena, TX
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Wool

Vintage Midcentury Precedent Drexel Wormley Credenza
By Edward Wormley
Located in Pasadena, TX
Multipurpose credenza by Edward Wormley for Drexel. Painted in white lacquer with brass hardware. Six drawers with two side cabinets, three shelves each. Wood composition, white ...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Brass

Edward Wormley Dunbar Burl Walnut Burl Two-Tier Coffee Table
By Edward Wormley
Located in Pasadena, TX
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Walnut, Burl

Edward Wormley for Drexel Drop-Leaf Precedent Dining Table
By Edward Wormley
Located in Pasadena, TX
A Mid-Century Modern dining table designed by Edward Wormley for Drexel's Precedent collection. The drop leaf table measures 50" x 28" when folded and 70" x 50" when fully extended.
Category

1950s Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Ash

Vintage Wormley Conference or Dining Table for Dunbar
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in Pasadena, TX
Category

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

Materials

Wood, Walnut

Edward Wormley Drexel Precedent Nightstand
By Edward Wormley
Located in Pasadena, TX
Precedent four drawer nightstand. Beautiful in design and material, the Precedent series was designed by Edward Wormley in 1947. Nightstand features wood construction, four pull-o...
Category

1940s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Bronze

Edward Wormley for Precedent by Drexel Coffee Table
By Edward Wormley, Drexel
Located in Pasadena, TX
Category

1940s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Glass, Wood

Four Edward Wormley Precedent by Drexel Dining Chairs 239-4 8 Available
By Edward Wormley
Located in Pasadena, TX
Edward Wormley designed for Precedent Side Chairs series 239-4 in 1947, neoclassical area. Set of 4 dining chairs, solid wood construction, natural finish. 8 available
Category

1940s American Neoclassical Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Wood

Edward Wormley for Dunbar Credenza
By Edward Wormley
Located in Pasadena, TX
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Walnut

Edward Wormley for Drexel Precedent Rolling Bar Cart
By Edward Wormley
Located in Pasadena, TX
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Wood

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Midcentury 101in Model 488 Sofa by Edward Wormley for Dunbar
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Fabric, Down

Edward Wormley for Dunbar Walnut Desk
By Edward Wormley
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Category

1940s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

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Brass, Walnut

Midcentury #5526 Wormley Dunbar Armless Sofa
By Edward Wormley
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6ft Vintage Midcentury Wormley Dunbar Party Sofa
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
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Edward Wormley for Dunbar Credenza
By Edward Wormley
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Edward Wormley for Dunbar Mahogany Adjustable Headboard Restored
By Edward Wormley
Located in Pasadena, TX
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Mahogany

1 Midcentury Sofa in the Manner of Edward Wormley
By Dunbar Furniture
Located in Pasadena, TX
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Fabric

Edward Wormley Dunbar Burl Walnut Burl Two-Tier Coffee Table
By Edward Wormley
Located in Pasadena, TX
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Walnut, Burl

Harvey Probber Bronze Base Sofa
By Harvey Probber
Located in Pasadena, TX
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Metal

Vintage Wormley Conference or Dining Table for Dunbar
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in Pasadena, TX
Category

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

Materials

Wood, Walnut

Edward Wormley for Precedent by Drexel Coffee Table
By Edward Wormley, Drexel
Located in Pasadena, TX
Category

1940s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Glass, Wood

Edward Wormley for Drexel Precedent Rolling Bar Cart
By Edward Wormley
Located in Pasadena, TX
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Wood

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