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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
$6,138
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, Berne, Indiana, circa 1970
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in Brooklyn, NY
Edward Wormley bachelor chest for Dunbar, Berne, Indiana, circa 1970 Dunbar, Berne, Indiana, circa 1970, signed/stamped on back Measures: Walnut H 31, W 34, D 20 in.
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Walnut

Dunbar Daybed/Sofa by Edward Wormley, 1960
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
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 "New York" Sofa Mod. 5316 DUX Sweden Mid-Century Modern 1956
By Dux of Sweden, Edward Wormley
Located in Hamminkeln, DE
Very rare Edward Wormley "New York" Sofa Mod. 5316 DUX Sweden Mid-Century Modern 1956 - a beautiful Mid-Century Modern piece from the 1950s in fantastic condition, reupholstered in D...
Category

1950s Swedish Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Fabric, Wood

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

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

Edward Wormley Pair of Dining Chairs in Red Leather
By Mobilier Universel, Edward Wormley
Located in Waalwijk, NL
Edward Wormley for Dunbar by Mobilier Universel, armchairs model '5762', lacquered black wood, red leather, Belgium, design 1957 This pair of grand armchairs by Edward Wormley des...
Category

1950s Belgian Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Leather, Wood

  • Edward Wormley Pair of Dining Chairs in Red Leather
  • Edward Wormley Pair of Dining Chairs in Red Leather
  • Edward Wormley Pair of Dining Chairs in Red Leather
  • Edward Wormley Pair of Dining Chairs in Red Leather
H 33.08 in. W 24.02 in. D 25.2 in.
Edward Wormley for Dunbar Mid Century Slipper Chairs
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in Countryside, IL
Edward Wormley for Dunbar Mid Century slipper chairs This chair measures: 23.75 wide x 33.5 deep x 31.75 inches high, with a seat height of 15.5 inches All pieces of furniture...
Category

1970s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Upholstery, Wood

Edward Wormley for Drexel Precedent Mid Century Elm Magazine Library Table
By Drexel, Edward Wormley
Located in Countryside, IL
Edward Wormley for Drexel Precedent mid century elm magazine library table The table measures: 25 wide x 16 deep x 26.25 inches high All pieces of furniture can be had in what ...
Category

1970s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Wood, Elm

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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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