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 Edward J. Wormley  (1907 - 1995)

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Lived/Active: New York/Illinois      Known for: furniture design, teaching

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Collection of forty-six furniture renderings
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Rago Arts and Auction:
Edward J Wormley was born in 1907 in a small town outside of Chicago.  While in high school, he took a correspondence course from the New York School of Interior Design.  After graduating he attended the Art Institute of Chicago.  Once his three years of study at the school were complete, he began training in interior design at Marshall Field & Company.  He was soon designing for the Grand Rapids furniture firm of Berkey and Gay.  Wormley's work for the company included reproductions of 18th century English furniture.   In the early 1930s, Edward Wormley took a trip to Europe that broadened his interest in design.

Shortly thereafter, Wormley became a major designer for the Dunbar Furniture Company, which had been in business since 1912 and now operated out of Berne, Indiana.  Worley left Dunbar briefly during the war years to work for the government as head of the Furniture Unit in the Office of Price Administration.   He then returned to Dunbar as an independent consultant in 1944.  A year later, Worley opened his own design studio in New York.

During its formative years, Dunbar became synonymous with the highest quality furniture for modern living. (1) With Worley's designs, the company could hardly have failed. His furniture fit in seamlessly with modern and traditional decor.(2) Dunbar produced two lines a year, with an average of a hundred pieces per line, for thirty-seven years.  Despite all this production, Dunbar employed little automation.  Finishes and designs could be customized by the client, including rare wood veneers, intricate carving, and Murano glass inlays.

The Janus collection, introduced in 1957, was one of the most memorable Wormley/Dunbar collaborations and included inlay work of Tiffany glass tiles. During his long career, Wormley also managed to teach at the Parsons School of Design and was awarded the Elsie de Wolf award in 1962.

He died in 1995.

1. Johnson, Erin. “Edward Wormley” in ed. Todd Merrill and Julie V. Iovine, Modern Americana (New York: Rizzoli, 2008) p. 218
2. Ibid, p.218

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