George Nelson

Edward Wormley for Dunbar

“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.”

A few years back I did a freelance job for Dunbar Furniture. It was  my first real introduction to the furniture designed by Edward Wormley, and I instantly fell in love with his understated and elegant design aesthetic.

Born in Rochelle, IL near Chicago. Edward Wormley came from humble beginnings, during the late 1920’s his financial state caused him to struggle  to stay in school for interior design at the Art Institute of Chicago. in 1930 he was forced to cut his schooling short, and he went to work as an interior designer for Marshall Fields in Chicago. Ultimately unfulfilled with his career at Marshal Fields he quit in 1931 to join the Dunbar Furniture Company of Berne, Indiana. His job as lead designer was to update their overall product line.

Wormley’s work with Dunbar met with immediate success and his career with them lasted for 30 years. He had a outsatnding eye for quality and the exacting craftsmanship needed in the development of high quality modern furniture. Wormley began incorporating European innovations and created furniture that was elegant, understated and modern.  In 1944 Dunbar decided to focus exclusively on Modern lines, and to this day manufactures and sells furniture that Wormely designed between 1944 and 1970. While Wormley was never truly at the forefront of Modern design he was able to take the best elements from classical, historical design and translated them into Modern vernacular. His result was furniture that was sophisticated, yet mainstream, and this translated into a very successful product line for Dunbar.

Wormley was fortunate enough to be included in the “Good Design” Exhibitions staged by the Museum of Modern in New York between 1950 and 1955. This elevated him to a respected place alongside designers like Harry Bertoia, George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames. Edward Wormley thoroughly understood the essential elements of what became known as Mid Century Modernism but never limited himself to this single ideology. His furniture designs represent an understanding of classical design principles merged with 20th century innovation. The convergence of these helped to create timeless classic pieces that greatly appeal to today’s collectors.


Edward Wormley designs from the current Dunbar catalog



Design Friday.

Foster+Partners designed the Arc Table for the Italian manufacturer Molteni&C.

arc_231009_01Inspired by the semi temporary fabric structures, which are increasingly used in contemporary architectural design, (think Crown Center Ice Skating rink) the base is soft, fluid table. I love the undulating geometry of the intersecting parabolic arcs that are wrapped over the sub-frame. The images of the table remind me of George Nelson Bubble lamps in their simplicity, and how the light plays off of the stretched white fabric.

The base is made of an innovative material of composited  cement and organic fibers, the material is resistant and elastic at the same time. It lends itself very well to complex geometric  structures. The material  is also waterproof, and the pigment dyed base in white and two tones of gray, ensures the color stays color fast throughout its lifespan, and in exposure to direct sunlight. Because of this the base  materials make this a perfect candidate for  outdoor use.

Arc complements its base with a tempered glass top, in sizes of  140 or 150 cm in diameter. The glass comes in both clear and a smoked finish and according to the manufacturer’s website there is a future option for frosted as well. I have to say that I really love the smoked glass option that is shown in the photos though.

Now, what would the perfect chair for this table be? Hmmmm.

arc 2

arc 3

arc 4

The Bubble Lamp is Go.

George Nelson Criss Cross Bubble Lamp, by Modernica

George Nelson Criss Cross Bubble Lamp, by Modernica

Yesterday when I got home from the trip I had the nice surprise of finding the George Nelson Criss Cross Bubble lamp installed above the kitchen island at the house. It looks fantastic. There is a nice visual break in the line of sight across the ceiling without being to obtrusive to the flow of the room. The light it emits has a wonderful diffused pattern that subtlety hints at the overall shape of the lamp itself. I love the look of the stretched white plastic membrane across the wire framing. The chiaroscuro of form created by the undulating bends in the elliptical shape of the lamp is punctuated with dark contrasting lines from the wire structure beneath it.

According to our handy man the installation was a snap. The light came with all the wiring and attachments, plus a face plate that perfectly covered the hole from the existing recessed fixture. Installation time took about 30 minutes and this included removing the original lighting fixture that was installed in the ceiling.

I’m curious to see how the light is going to hold up and how easy it will be to clean it under normal conditions. The plastic membrane that is stretched over the wire frame seems extremely durable but it is hard to tell. I’m wondering about things like discoloration, which I know was an issue with the original Nelson lamps from the 50’s and 60’s. I’ll be making additional posts about the lamp as we use it more and I have a chance to see how it holds up under daily use in the house.

George Nelson Bubble Lamp

George Nelson Saucer Lamp

George Nelson Saucer Lamp

The new Saucer Criss-Cross Nelson Bubble Lamp arrived today. We got it from of all places Gump’s in San Francisco. Yes Gump’s. I have no idea why they carry them but they do. Originally we were going to get the Cigar lamp for the old house, (the floor standing model) but with the new house we have gone for a ceiling mount lamp. We bought from Gump’s because we had a 300 dollar credit there and it covered most of the cost of the lamp. It’s funny on the receipt that was in the box it said “Gump’s Basement”, which makes me wonder if these are remainder items from a few years back when Mid-Century Modern was the hot decorating style.

We have decided to hang it in  the house above the kitchen island at the end of a 3 light run. The position is perfect for it since it will center out in the second module of the home, and create a visual break in the large open room that functions as Living Room, Dining Room, and Kitchen. The electrician won’t be out until after Tuesday, so I am not going to see this installed until after get back from South Africa. None the less I am excited because the lamp looks so awesome.

The lamps are manufacture to exact specifications to the original manufacturing process by Modernica of Southern California. The first Bubble Lamp was designed by George Nelson in 1947, and produced by Howard Miller starting in the early 1950’s, only to end production in 1979. The Bubble Lamp is featured in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.



When I get back, I’ll post photos of the light in its new location.