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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 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 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
$4,832
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 Primavera Mahogany Commode
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in Chicago, IL
Edward Wormley for Dunbar 5-drawer cabinet, mahogany wood with tapered brass legs. [metal tag Dunbar].
Category

1940s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Brass

Edward Wormley Tete-e-Tete Sofa
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in Chicago, IL
Wormley for Dunbar Tete-e-Tete sofa, tufted reupholstered with great plains mohair on plinth base. (metal "D" Dunbar label on underside) Measures: Outside arm height 26" Inside ...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Upholstery, Wood

  • Edward Wormley Tete-e-Tete Sofa
  • Edward Wormley Tete-e-Tete Sofa
  • Edward Wormley Tete-e-Tete Sofa
  • Edward Wormley Tete-e-Tete Sofa
H 26 in. W 80 in. D 36 in.
Edward Wormley for Dunbar Sofa
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in Chicago, IL
Edward Wormley for Dunbar Sofa, early design with great scale, spring seating system, reupholstered and rebuilt reupholstered with wool great plains fabric. Solid mahogany legs. [L...
Category

1940s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Upholstery

  • Edward Wormley for Dunbar Sofa
  • Edward Wormley for Dunbar Sofa
  • Edward Wormley for Dunbar Sofa
  • Edward Wormley for Dunbar Sofa
H 31.5 in. W 100 in. D 37 in.
Dining Table Designed by Edward Wormley for Dunbar Furniture
By Edward Wormley, Dunbar Furniture
Located in Los Angeles, CA
Dunbar Furniture is one of the best names in American modern furniture. Edward Wormley is the designer. Mahogany dining table The table has three leaves. Without leaves the measureme...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Mahogany

Walnut Side Table with Murano Glass Model 5425 by Edward Wormley for Dunbar
By Edward Wormley
Located in Montreal, QC
Walnut side table with murano glass inset model 5425 by Edward Wormley. The table top is inset with murano glass polychrome squares.   
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Wood

Dunbar Dining/Conference Table
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in Chicago, IL
Roger Sprunger for Dunbar dining table, could seat 6 to 8 people. Rounded edged walnut top with good figured patterns, dark walnut pedestal base. Dunbar Berne Indiana metal tag on ...
Category

1970s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Walnut

  • Dunbar Dining/Conference Table
  • Dunbar Dining/Conference Table
  • Dunbar Dining/Conference Table
  • Dunbar Dining/Conference Table
H 30 in. W 96 in. D 48 in.
Mid-Century Modern Wormley Dunbar Model 5309 Wood Brass Glass Coffee Table 1950s
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in Keego Harbor, MI
For your consideration is a magnificent coffee table, made of wood and brass and glass, with a cut out in the glass for a candy dish, designed by Edward Wormley for Dunbar, circa the...
Category

1950s Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Brass

Edward Wormley "Heart Chair" Wingback for Dunbar
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in Chicago, IL
Very rare design by Edward Wormley for Dunbar. Oversized proportions. Fully restored and reupholstered in charcoal mohair.
Category

20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Edward Wormley

Materials

Mahogany, Mohair

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Edward Wormley Furniture for sale on 1stDibs.

Edward Wormley 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. We have 1,037 vintage editions of these items in-stock, while there is 0 modern edition to choose from as well. 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’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider Furniture by Milo Baughman, Herman Miller and Dunbar. Prices for Edward Wormley furniture can vary depending on size, time period and other attributes. On average, these items start at $300 and top out at $42,344, while pieces like these can sell for $5,804.