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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
US$4,847
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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 for Dunbar Brass "T" Handle Snack Table
By Edward Wormley, Dunbar Furniture
Located in Chicago, IL
Edward Wormley for Dunbar Brass "T" Handle Snack table, model 4856 Easy to improvise, move around light but sturdy. [Metal label underside Dunbar].  
Category

1940s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Brass

Small Mid-Century Cabinet by Edward Wormley for Dunbar
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in Dorchester, MA
Designed by Edward Wormley for Dunbar, this trim mid-century cabinet in walnut-stained mahogany features recessed door pulls and a matching leather-wrapped base. Inside are two adjus...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Leather, Mahogany

Edward Wormley for Dunbar Murano Glass Tile Top Tables
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in St.Petersburg, FL
Rare pair of end tables designed by Edward Wormley for Dunbar. Featuring a mosaic murano glass tile top and brass framed base. Wonderful colors present throughout. In old original ch...
Category

1950s North American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Brass

Captains Chair by Edward Wormley for Dunbar
By Edward Wormley
Located in Round Rock, TX
Absolutely lovely captains arm chair by Edward Wormley for Dunbar. Model 5480 may be Wormleys most recognizable designs. Features a gracefully sculpted cane back rest, molded ash fra...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Brass

  • Captains Chair by Edward Wormley for Dunbar
  • Captains Chair by Edward Wormley for Dunbar
  • Captains Chair by Edward Wormley for Dunbar
  • Captains Chair by Edward Wormley for Dunbar
H 32.5 in. W 24.5 in. D 23 in.
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

Edward Wormley Model 6329 Janus Sofa, Jack Lenor Larsen Flamestitch Velvet 1960s
By Dunbar Furniture, Jack Lenor Larsen, Edward Wormley
Located in Brooklyn, NY
Edward Wormley Model 6329 Janus sofa, Jack Lenor Larsen Flamestitch velvet 1960s. Made in Berne, Indiana. Iconic v-angled design from seminal Janus Collection by Edward Wormley. Labe...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Mahogany, Velvet

Dunbar Swivel Chair Designed by Edward Wormley
By Dunbar Furniture, Edward Wormley
Located in Providence, RI
Model #5609 swivel lounge chair designed by Edward Wormley and produced by Dunbar, circa 1965. Newly reupholstered in red chenille. Mahogany base refinished. If you would like a swa...
Category

1960s American Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Upholstery, Mahogany

Pair of Edward Wormley for Dunbar Mahogany Slipper Chair
By Edward Wormley
Located in Chicago, IL
A pair of 1950s Edward Wormley for Dunbar slipper chairs. Featuring a sculptural mahogany wood frame and original upholstery.
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Upholstery, Mahogany

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Edward Wormley Sellers

Sputnik Modern
4.8 / 5
Liberty & 33rd
4.9 / 5
Century Design Ltd.
5 / 5
20CDesign.com
4.4 / 5
Modern Hill Inc.
4.7 / 5

Creators Similar to Edward Wormley

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.