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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 — chairs, sofas, tables and more — 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 vintage 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$5,507
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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
Newly Upholstered Edward Wormley Sofa for Dunbar, USA, 1960s
By Edward Wormley, Dunbar Furniture
Located in Berlin, DE
Newly upholstered Edward Wormley sofa for Dunbar, USA - 1960s. Upholstered in Chase Erwin Fabric. Signed!
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Fabric, Wood

Edward Wormley for Dunbar Mid Century Slipper Lounge Chairs, a Pair
By Edward Wormley, Dunbar Furniture
Located in Countryside, IL
Edward Wormley for Dunbar mid century slipper lounge chairs - a pair Each chair measures: 35 wide x 25 deep x 31 high, with a seat height of 16 inches All pieces of furniture c...
Category

1970s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Upholstery, Wood

Dining Table in Cherry by Edward Wormley for Dunbar, Expertly Refinished
By Edward Wormley, Dunbar Furniture
Located in Kansas City, MO
Edward Wormley for Dunbar dining table in Cherry and Mahogany. Expertly refinished. The condition is as close to perfect as it can get. Leaves are 18 inches wide. Table is 66 inches ...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Cherry, Mahogany

Edward Wormley for Dunbar Mid Century Mahogany and Brass Side End Table
By Edward Wormley, Dunbar Furniture
Located in Countryside, IL
Edward Wormley for Dunbar Mid Century Mahogany and Brass Side End Table 22 wide x 28 deep x 22.25 high See below for 5 ways to save! FREE RESTORATION: When you purchase a piece ...
Category

1970s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Brass

Edward Wormley "New York" Sofa Mod. 5316 DUX Sweden Mid-Century Modern 1956
By Edward Wormley, Dux of Sweden
Located in Hamminkeln, DE
Very rare Edward Wormley "New York" Sofa Mod. 5316 DUX Sweden Mid-Century Modern 1956 - a beautiful Mid-Century Modern piece from the 1950s in fantastic condition, reupholstered in D...
Category

1950s Swedish Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Fabric, Wood

Modern Morris by Edward Wormley Designed for Dunbar, 1940s
By Edward Wormley, Dunbar Furniture
Located in San Francisco, CA
Offered here is a Modern Morris lounge chair by Edward Wormley, designed for Dunbar circa 1940s. Sculptural continuous laminated Mahogany frame, joined by two steel rods which in tu...
Category

1940s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Steel

Lovely Pair of Edward Wormley for Drexel Precedent Nightstand Mid-Century Modern
By Drexel, Edward Wormley
Located in Pemberton, NJ
Lovely pair of Edward Wormley for Drexel precedent end tables or nightstands. These pieces are in vintage condition and do show wear to the finish-we recommend refinishing or lacquer...
Category

1940s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Brass

"Long John" Coffee Table by Edward Wormley for Dunbar
By Edward Wormley, Dunbar Furniture
Located in Los Angeles, CA
Sleek low profile coffee table designed by Edward Wormley for Dunbar, circa 1950s Beautifully constructed of solid sap walnut, with steam bent walnut legs. Fully marked.
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Edward Wormley

Materials

Walnut

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Edward Wormley Sellers

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.

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