Edward Wormley

American  [1907-1925] 

Edward Wormley Edward J. Wormley was born in Rochelle, Illinois. Coming from humble beginnings, he struggled financially to stay in school for interior design at the Art Institute of Chicago. He ultimately had to cut his schooling short after only two years when he could no longer afford the tuition. He went on to work as an interior designer for Marshall Fields + Company department store where he was unfulfilled as a designer. It was in 1931 that he was hired by the Dunbar Furniture Company of Berne, Indiana to update/improve their least expensive furniture line.

Wormley used wood and upholstery in a tailored way that seemed comfortable to an audience not completely ready for the austerity of 'International Style' design. Wormley's eye for quality and the exacting craftsmanship at Dunbar made for furniture that was elegant, understated and exceptionally well-made. Wormley using European innovations took the best elements from classical, historical design and translated them into Modern vernacular. The result was furniture that was sophisticated, yet mainstream and very successful. It was in 1944 that Dunbar Furniture decided to strictly focus on Modern lines with Wormley's guidance.

Wormley opened his own office in 1945 in New York, specializing in interior and furniture design with Dunbar as his primary client, while staying on as a consultant. In 1947 he worked for Drexel Furniture Company creating the "Precedent" collection for the competing company, which in turn threatened his relationship with Dunbar.

Some of his notable classics are the curved A-frame wood Captains chair with a caned back and a ledge-armed tufted sofa of the mid-1960's, along with other pieces. Wormley ultimately was a style setter in modern residential furniture in the United States for four decades.

"Furniture is needed for practical reasons, and because it must be there, it may as well be as pleasant as possible to look at, and in a less definable psychological way, comforting to the spirit."  E.J.W.

** We are always looking to buy Edward J. Wormley furniture as well as other top designers + art deco items from the period. Please contact us if you are looking to sell. Calls are always welcome: 305.778.2182 **