Mid Century Modern Edward Wormley for Dunbar #5407 Button Velvet Tufted Sofa

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Edward Wormley was an American modernist furniture designer who was known for his high-quality and elegant pieces. He had an exceptional talent for blending the best characteristics of past design eras with 20th century modern innovation. During the Great Depression, Dunbar Furniture Company recruited Wormley to be their Director of Design, and Wormley’s leadership brought success to the company. Each of Wormley’s well-made creations embraces modernist trends while retaining a strong historical foundation, resulting in an understated and truly stylish addition to any room.

Offered is the Edward Wormley for Dunbar iconic tufted sofa model #5407, purchased at auction from the estate of Walter Hamilton White, a Dunbar Furniture executive that worked in the New York City showroom for Dunbar in the 1960s and was an avid Dunbar Furniture collector. This particular sofa from Edward Wormley is quite rare and remained in the poccession of this collector for at least 50 years. The button tufting alone makes this sofa brilliant! This very comfortable and gracious sofa is in its original upholstery, a gorgeous coral orange that is on trend for color in decor. This piece is a true collector piece!


    Good. Very good vintage condition. The original upholstery is a current fashionable shade of orange velvet and with a proper cleaning might not need to be replaced. The structure of the sofa is in good vintage condition..
    Wear consistent with age and use. Minor fading.
    24 in. H x 100 in. W x 36 in. D
    61 cm H x 254 cm W x 91 cm D
    Seller Location
    Houston, TX
    Reference Number

About Edward Wormley (Designer)

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.

About the Seller

1stdibs seller since 2014

Typical response time: 1 hour

Located in Houston, TX

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