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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.
A-Frame Chair
A-Frame Chair
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Heart Chair
Applied Filters7 results
Creator:Edward Wormley
Dealer:Almond Hartzog Gallery
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Edward Wormley Lounge Chairs
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Edward Wormley lounge chairs A pair of slipper style lounge chairs with lacquered mahogany frames and restored in a luxurious Sandra Jordan Prima Suri Alpaca fabric in color French ...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Alpaca, Mahogany

Edward Wormley for Dunbar, Curved Back Sofa
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Edward Wormley for Dunbar, curved back sofa An early curved back sofa by Edward Wormley for Dunbar. Beige chenille fabric with tapered wooden legs. USA, circa 1950s.
Category

20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Fabric, Wood

Edward Wormley, Tufted Sofa
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
A long, tufted sofa by Edward Wormley recently restored in a George Spencer paprika color velvet with contrast silk trim and six mahogany legs.
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Velvet, Wood

Pair of "Janus" Wing Chairs by Edward Wormley
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Linen, Mahogany

Edward Wormley, Pentagonal Coffee Table
By Tiffany Studios, Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Edward Wormley, pentagonal coffee table A pentagonal coffee table of mahogany (model 5625T) by Edward Wormley for Dunbar. Features a star burst of Tiffany Studios Favrile glass tile...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Mahogany, Glass

Edward Wormley Channel Back Chairs, Model No. 4827
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

Materials

Brass, Leather

Edward Wormley Early Wing Chairs
By Edward Wormley
Located in San Francisco, CA
Category

1940s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley Furniture

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Pair of Fritz Neth "Egg" Chairs
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