Edward Wormley Vanities

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.

Edward Wormley Desk/Vanity

Edward Wormley Desk/Vanity

By Dunbar Furniture
Edward Wormley Desk/Vanity
Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Vintage 1940s American Mid-Century Modern Desks
Cherry
Wormley for Dunbar writing desk. Cherrywood veneer. Features nine drawers with laminated pulls and hairpin legs. Green Dunbar label on inside of drawer. Measures: Chair clearance: 2...
Midcentury Drexel Precedent Vanity/Desk Designed by Edward Wormley
Midcentury Drexel Precedent Vanity/Desk Designe...
Edward Wormley, Drexel Precedent
Vintage 1940s Mid-Century Modern Vanities
Brass
This vanity was designed by Edward Wormley for Drexel's Precedent Collection. We just love the bowed top along with the wonderful pull-out shelves on one side and removable caddys on...
Vanity Table by Edward Wormley
Vanity Table by Edward Wormley
Edward Wormley
Vintage 1960s American Scandinavian Modern Vanities
Cherry, Steel
A cherry dressing table or vanity, with a beautifully bevelled drawer, Lucite pull and gallery edges, over double-forked base with chromed supports. Designed by Edward Wormley, made ...
Rare Dunbar Small Vanity or Makeup Table by Edward Wormley
Rare Dunbar Small Vanity or Makeup Table by Edw...
Edward Wormley
Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Vanities
A rare smaller scale mahogany vanity or makeup table with a single drawer and simple leg design with stretches. The higher tapered sides and back edges prevent items from falling, an...
Edward Wormley for Dunbar Vanity Dresser, 1941
Edward Wormley for Dunbar Vanity Dresser, 1941
Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Vintage 1940s Mid-Century Modern Vanities
Mahogany
Offering a very rare and early vanity and mirror by Edward Wormley for Dunbar. The vanity offers seven drawers for ample storage. It has original brass pulls with an inset glass top ...
Table and Stool by Edward Wormley
Table and Stool by Edward Wormley
Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Vintage 1940s American Mid-Century Modern Vanities
Mahogany
An ebonized and polished dark mahogany telephone cabinet or vanity table having a storage drawer and an innovative fold-out bench.
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