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.

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Edward Wormley Walnut Sideboard for Dunbar
By Edward Wormley, Dunbar Berne
Dimensions:
Dealer Location: Portland, OR
Materials & Techniques: Brass, Walnut
Edward Wormley Walnut Sideboard for Dunbar
Edward Wormley, Dunbar Berne
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Buffets
Brass, Walnut
A rare light walnut edition of this sideboard by Edward Wormley for Dunbar. This elegantly serviceable piece features two shelves inside each of the doors on right and left, four centre...
Edward Wormley for Dunbar Walnut Buffet
Dimensions:
Dealer Location: Philadelphia, PA
Materials & Techniques: Brass, Cane, Walnut
Edward Wormley for Dunbar Walnut Buffet
Edward Wormley
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Buffets
Brass, Cane, Walnut
Edward Wormley for Dunbar walnut buffet or credenza with piano hinged "L" shaped doors that reveal ample storage for barware both ends. Cabinet sits on a recessed plinth base. This buff...
Edward Wormley for Dunbar Credenza
Dimensions:
Dealer Location: Laguna Hills, CA
Materials & Techniques: Brass, Grasscloth, Wood
Edward Wormley for Dunbar Credenza
Edward Wormley
20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Buffets
Brass, Grasscloth, Wood
Elegant design by Edward Wormley for Dunbar Furniture Company, Berne Indiana. Ebonized case with three top drawers and sliding Seagrass front doors on tapering brass legs. Fitted interi...
Ed Wormley for Dunbar Buffet with Italian Travertine Top
Dimensions:
Dealer Location: Geneva, IL
Materials & Techniques: Stone, Leather, Wood
Ed Wormley for Dunbar Buffet with Italian Traverti...
Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Buffets
Stone, Leather, Wood
Exceptional Ed Wormley designed credenza with a heavy, 1.25 inch thick vein-cut Italian polished travertine top. Original opaque espresso-colored finish, with an occasional streaked eff...
Edward Wormley Custom Grey Stained Credenza
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Dimensions:
Dealer Location: New York, NY
Materials & Techniques: Mahogany
Edward Wormley Custom Grey Stained Credenza
Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Buffets
Mahogany
Mid-Century mahogany credenza in a custom taupe/grey/brown stain with a semi-gloss finish. Five drawers are located in the center; the top two being lined in brown felt are flanked by t...
Edward Wormley for Dunbar Credenza
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Dimensions:
Dealer Location: Chicago, IL
Materials & Techniques: Textile, Mahogany
Edward Wormley for Dunbar Credenza
Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Vintage 1940s American Mid-Century Modern Buffets
Textile, Mahogany
Edward Wormley for Dunbar, dark brown mahogany original finish. Rare custom weaved design on door fronts, vinyl like material. Three drawers on top with partitions with four sliding doo...
Dunbar Sideboard by Edward Wormley with Brass and Rosewood Pulls
Dimensions:
Dealer Location: Chicago, IL
Materials & Techniques: Brass, Mahogany, Rosewood, Walnut
Dunbar Sideboard by Edward Wormley with Brass and ...
Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Buffets
Brass, Mahogany, Rosewood, Walnut
Beautiful sideboard with cantilever sides by Edward Wormley for Dunbar. Mahogany case, walnut drawers, rosewood & brass pulls. "D" key for locking center panel. Fully restored, excellen...
Dimensions:
Dealer Location: Geneva, IL
Materials & Techniques: Brass, Wood
Edward Wormley for Dunbar "Janus" Cabinet; doors w...
Edward Wormley
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Buffets
Brass, Wood
Edward Wormley designed walnut cabinet with four doors, set with antique Japanese printing plates - over four rosewood-front drawers. Scarce, late 1950s #5724 cabinet. Functions well as...
Walnut Credenza by Edward Wormley for Dunbar Made in USA, circa 1955
Dimensions:
Dealer Location: New York, NY
Walnut Credenza by Edward Wormley for Dunbar Made ...
Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Buffets
Buffet in excellent, original condition by Edward Wormley for Dunbar in walnut wood with brass wishbone pulls and original labels. There are four doors on the lower portion of the cred...
Dunbar Cabinet by Edward Wormley
Dimensions:
Dealer Location: Dallas, TX
Dunbar Cabinet by Edward Wormley
Edward Wormley
Vintage 1950s Buffets
A mahogany cabinet with walnut cantilevered top and cane sliding doors. Designed by Edward Wormley for Dunbar.
Dimensions:
Dealer Location: Kansas City, MO
Materials & Techniques: Cane, Mahogany
Edward Wormley for Dunbar Cabinet, Buffet or Sideb...
Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Buffets
Cane, Mahogany
Edward Wormley storage cabinet. Three drawers and three sliding doors with cane fronts revealing drawers and adjustable shelves. Excellent condition.
Cabinet or Buffet by Edward Wormley for Dunbar, Solid Brass Legs
Dimensions:
Dealer Location: Kansas City, MO
Materials & Techniques: Brass, Cane, Mahogany
Cabinet or Buffet by Edward Wormley for Dunbar, So...
Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Buffets
Brass, Cane, Mahogany
Large-scale, polished mahogany cabinet with cane front sliding doors that reveal drawers and storage. Top drawers with solid brass pulls, center drawer is double wide with built in, but...
Dimensions:
Dealer Location: Dallas, TX
Woven Front Cabinet by Edward Wormley for Dunbar
Edward Wormley
Vintage 1950s Buffets
A bleached walnut woven front credenza designed by Edward Wormley for Dunbar.
Cabinet Designed by Edward Wormley for Dunbar
Dimensions:
Dealer Location: Dallas, TX
Cabinet Designed by Edward Wormley for Dunbar
Edward Wormley
Vintage 1950s Buffets
A bleached mahogany sideboard with brass hardware and removable glass tray. Designed by Edward Wormley for Dunbar.
Dimensions:
Dealer Location: Dallas, TX
Curved Front Cabinet by Edward Wormley for Dunbar
Edward Wormley
Vintage 1950s Buffets
A mahogany and walnut cabinet with brass feet. Designed by Edward Wormley for Dunbar.
Rare Edward Wormley Drop Down Bar, Credenza for Dunbar
On Hold
Dimensions:
Dealer Location: San Diego, CA
Rare Edward Wormley Drop Down Bar, Credenza for Du...
Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Vintage 1950s American Buffets
Rarely seen Edward Wormley drop down bar, credenza for Dunbar made of walnut & mahogany, with brass & rosewood hardware. Cabinet is in beautiful original condition with drop down middle...
Classic Sliding Door Cabinet by Edward Wormley for Dunbar
Dimensions:
Dealer Location: San Leandro, CA
Materials & Techniques: Mahogany
Classic Sliding Door Cabinet by Edward Wormley for...
Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Buffets
Mahogany
Iconic Model 4117 Cabinet by Edward Wormley for Dunbar that has been meticulously restored and refinished in espresso lacquer. The wavy doors slide open to reveal two adjustable shelves...
Dimensions:
Dealer Location: Atlanta, GA
Materials & Techniques: Brass, Wood
Stunning Edward Wormely Chest/Buffet/Credenza in B...
Edward Wormley
Vintage 1940s American Mid-Century Modern Buffets
Brass, Wood
A Beautiful multi-purpose case piece by Edward Wormley for Drexel, circa 1947. Wonderful design allows for use as a chest, buffet or credenza. Restored in black lacquer to provide contr...
Dimensions:
Dealer Location: Boston, MA
Materials & Techniques: Nickel, Mahogany
Woven-Front Sideboard by Edward Wormley for Dunbar...
Edward Wormley
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Buffets
Nickel, Mahogany
This mahogany sideboard has three spacious drawers above three sliding doors of mahogany veneer interwoven with nickel bars. The doors open to reveal three storage areas. The center sec...
Classic Woven front buffet by Dunbar
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Dimensions:
Dealer Location: Los Angeles, CA
Materials & Techniques: Wood
Classic Woven front buffet by Dunbar
Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
20th Century American Buffets
Wood
Classic woven front buffet by Dunbar (signed). Three top drawers with dividers. Four slider doors revealing center shelves and end drawers.