Make Yourself Comfortable
Edward Wormley's Listen-to-Me Chaise Lounge
The furniture of Edward Wormley breathes with warmth, elegance, and unparalleled craftsmanship. Throughout the mid-century, he collaborated with the furniture manufacturer Dunbar to produce chairs, tables, couches, and cabinets to furnish the modern American home. According to Wormley, "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." This philosophy runs throughout the Listen-to-Me chaise, one of his most popular and enduring designs.
Conceived at Wormley's New York office in the same year Dunbar asked him to be their exclusive designer, his chaise lounge delicately undulates atop a cherry and maple base to effortlessly support a lounging body. Pieces like these that incorporate the warmth of wood and hand-made production allowed consumers what Leslie Piña described as a "comfortable alternative to historic styles and extreme modern design," helping Dunbar and Wormley to become leaders in luxury mid-century furniture design.
Born in rural Illinois in 1907, Edward Wormley’s interest in design originated early in life and led him to later study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Due to financial reasons, Wormley dropped out after 2 years and began his first job in an interior design studio before joining the Indiana-based Dunbar Furniture Company where he served as director of design for nearly 40 years.
Following World War II, Wormley became an independent consultant branching out to design textiles, globe stands, and showrooms. He designed award winning collections for Drexel Furniture Company and was included in the Good Design shows of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Characteristic of his design elements were functional engineering, decorative laminated plywood, and unconventional upholstery.
Wormley characteristically honored aesthetic qualities, following influences of Scandinavian modernism, while maintaining utilitarian qualities and “designing for the needs” of others. His work is timeless and of the highest quality. Wormley died in 1995, but his legacy is celebrated in collections including the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the Museum of Decorative Arts in Montreal.
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