Edward Wormley created limited edition and custom furniture for furniture manufacturer Dunbar from the forties to the seventies. His designs updated traditional silhouettes with a distinctly modern sensibility that was both functional and elegant. Baker, American manufacturer and designer of fine luxury home furnishings, has just introduced a twenty-piece collection of Wormley’s most successful and enduring designs. The 20-piece Edward Wormley for Dunbar collection of upholstery, casegoods and accessories is now available at Baker’s showrooms in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
Initially hired by the Dunbar Furniture Corporation of Berne, IN, to improve its least expensive furniture line, within five years, Wormley's furniture had made Dunbar the top modern furniture producer in America. Taking elements from classical, historical design, he translated them with clean lines into modern vernacular. From 1931 until 1970, when the company was sold, Wormley sketched and introduced as many as 150 pieces a year for the company. Russell Towner, Baker’s president says, “Edward Wormley and his timeless designs for Dunbar are synonymous with quality custom manufacturing and modern living. This remarkable designer is an icon waiting to be rediscovered and celebrated. Baker is honored to be presenting Edward Wormley’s original designs for Dunbar through our showrooms.”
Born in Oswego, IL in 1907, Wormley identified a passion for design as a young student. He studied interior decoration via a correspondence course while at high school, went on to study design at the Art Institute of Chicago, and worked in the design studio at Marshall Field & Company. After a trip in 1930 to Paris, where he met modernist Le Corbusier and Art Deco master Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann, Wormley took a bold new direction to create simplified silhouettes and plain surfaces. Working closely with Dunbar’s expert craftsmen – many of them of Swiss origin – Wormley used wood as a luxury material, and insisted on well-padded upholstery, the opposite of hard-edge modernism.
Wormley won the Designer of Distinction award from the American Society of Interior Designers and the Elsie de Wolfe Award. any examples of his furniture for Dunbar are in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Museum of Decorative Arts in Montreal. Many of Wormley’s most popular pieces from the thirties and forties continue to sell strongly into the sixties. His emphasis on comfort, quality, and strong silhouettes has also guaranteed that his pieces continue to attract very high prices at auction today.
Main blog image: Knowland Sofa, Edward Wormley Collection for Dunbar at Baker
Content for this blog was edited from a press release.