Edward Wormley, second from left pictured with George Nelson, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, Charles Eames, Jens Risom; Playboy magazine, July 1961.

Traveling by Amtrak from Boston to New York one snowy evening in 1995, I came upon an article about the auction of Edward Wormley’s estate. It was a pivotal moment for me. Returning from an auction where I had been seriously outbid on a Herter Brothers chest (now residing in the Metropolitan Museum), it occurred to me that it was time to set my sights on other furniture periods and designers.


The surreal Wormley shell console, above, circa 1950. Hand carved, it is often featured in contemporary interiors.

Edward Wormley, 1907 – 1994, was an American mid-century modern furniture designer who understood the essential elements of modernism, but did not limit himself to one ideology. His furniture represented a convergence of historical design and 20th century innovation. He took the best from Danish, Asian, and classical elements and designed sophisticated, well-crafted furniture prized by collectors and designers.

Wormley’s inclusion in the Good Design Shows at the Museum of Modern Art in 1951 and 1952 positioned him alongside designers Harry Bertoia, George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames.

The Wormley for Dunbar chest above and the Wormley coffee table below use the same minimalist vocabulary with subtle Asian influences.

A favorite in the townhouse.bz collection is the Wormley chair, below. It is beautifully designed, and the execution features brass crossbars and peg joints.


Below, the interplay of the negative space with the refined silhouette of these black lacquered dining chairs is a wonderful example of Wormley’s skill at furniture design and construction.