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Saturday, August 20, 2011

And then there was Drexel

Edward Wormley
Edward Wormley went to work for Dunbar Furniture in 1931 and is probably known best for the designs he did for them. He decided to open his own New York office in 1945, agreeing to continue as a consultant to Dunbar. He went back to Dunbar in 1957.

In between stints with Dunbar, he produced the Precedent collection for competing Drexel Furniture Company. The collection was given its name because “it promised to set so many bright new standards in contemporary living.” It featured bleached mahogany, silver elm, beechwood, solid brass handles and sliding panels. Wormley created 100 pieces for the Precedent collection, combining the essence of modern design with tradition. His work was featured in the Good Design show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1951 and 1952.

His work for Drexel put a strain on his relationship with Dunbar, so for a time after the Precedent collection came out, he found it prudent to maintain a lower profile, designing showrooms, textiles and small objects like the popular Cosmopolitan globe stand for Rand McNally.

From and

Advertising brochure

1951 magazine ad - Seller: whitemtnhowdy


Tiered end tables

Dining chair


Dining chairs



Coffee table

Side table


  1. Little known fact is that Milo Baughman did additional designs for the Precedent line in 1953. One of my little side projects is to sift through and identify what was designed by Wormley and what was done later by Baughman.

  2. @Jonathan: I had read that he designed for Drexel, but I had no idea he had designed part of the Precedent line. I'll be interested to know what you find out.

  3. Milo Baughman designed two complete lines for Drexel, the "Perspective" group in early 1952 and the "Today's Living" group later in that same year plus he did the extension of the existing "Precedent" group in 1953.

  4. @Jonathan: Is it your sense that Wormley abandoned the project to try to repair relations with Dunbar, or was the line such a good seller that Drexel decided to continue production by tacking on an extension after Wormley had already moved on?

  5. Honestly Dana I don't know enough about Wormley to answer that question.

  6. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the info. on Today's Living (designed by Milo Baughman). It is MUCH appreciated! Ang