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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
$6,269
Styles
Materials
Iconic Designs from Edward Wormley
Explore timeless pieces that have earned their place in history.
A Frame Chair
A Frame Chair
Edward Wormley Heart Chair
Edward Wormley Heart Chair
Swivel Chair by Edward Wormley for Dunbar, Priced Low for Reupholstery, Signed
By Edward Wormley, Dunbar Furniture
Located in Kansas City, MO
Dunbar barrel swivel lounge chair with a walnut base on brass casters. The casters can easily be removed if so desired. The walnut base has been expertly refinished and the mechanism...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Brass

Edward Wormley for Dunbar Lounge Chair, Priced for Reupholstery
By Edward Wormley, Dunbar Furniture
Located in Kansas City, MO
Edward Wormley for Dunbar high back lounge chair with arms. Reupholstered years ago in a plaid wool fabric. While the upholstery is in good condition, it is dated so we have it price...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Upholstery, Mahogany

Pair of Revolving Lounge Chairs by Edward Wormley for Dunbar Boucle and Walnut
By Edward Wormley, Dunbar Furniture
Located in St.Petersburg, FL
A pair of 1950s revolving chairs model number 4626 designed by Edward Wormley for Dunbar Furniture. These chairs have a walnut veneer base and new boucle fabric featuring cotton cord...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Bouclé, Walnut

Edward Wormley for Dunbar Janus Collection Chair and Footstool, C. 1950s
By Edward Wormley, Dunbar Furniture
Located in Stamford, CT
Historic set of lounge chair and ottoman designed by Edward Wormley for Dunbar, circa 1950-1959. Completely restored, reupholstered in embossed velvet by Holly Hunt. Walnut refinishe...
Category

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

Materials

Velvet, Walnut

Set of "Y" Armchairs by Edward Wormley for Dunbar, C. 1950s
By Edward Wormley
Located in Stamford, CT
A set of "Y" armchairs, designed by the Iconic Edward Wormley for Dunbar, circa 1950-1959. Completely restored, fitted with new caning, walnut frame work fully restored, stained in d...
Category

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

Materials

Brass

Edward Wormley for Dunbar Settees in New Upholstery
By Edward Wormley, Dunbar Furniture
Located in Dallas, TX
We have updated these great looking settees in a new black and off-white chenille weave. The sofas are very comfortable with new foam. Bases are mahogany platforms that have been ref...
Category

20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Edward Wormley

Materials

Upholstery, Mahogany

Edward Wormley for Dunbar Four-Seat Sofa in Off-White Upholstery
By Edward Wormley, Dunbar Furniture
Located in Waalwijk, NL
Edward J. Wormley for Dunbar, sofa, fabric and wood, United States, circa 1970 The white upholstery is a striking combination with the darkened frame that is especially visible at...
Category

1970s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Fabric, Wood

Edward Wormley for Dunbar Mid Century Slipper Chairs
By Edward Wormley, Dunbar Furniture
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

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Edward Wormley Sellers

More Edward Wormley Designs
A Frame Chair
A Frame Chair
Average Price
$7,610
Number Available
9
A Frame Chair
By Edward Wormley
Materials
Wood, Cane, Natural Fiber, Animal Skin, Brass, Leather, Metal, Fabric, Upholstery
Styles
Mid Century Modern
The Dunbar furniture company and designer Edward J. Wormley (1907–95) transformed American furnishings during the mid-20th century. Both Wormley and Dunbar hailed from the Midwest, and the fruit of their decades-long partnership is characterized by a strong ethos of classical design and the prioritization of well-made materials. Wormley’s foray into design in the mid-1920s has origins in the correspondence course from New York School of Interior Design that he completed as a high school stude...
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Edward Wormley Heart Chair
Edward Wormley Heart Chair
Average Price
$1,995
Number Available
1
Edward Wormley Heart Chair
By Edward Wormley
Materials
Limestone, Mahogany, Stone, Travertine, Wood
Styles
Mid Century Modern
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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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