This industry category includes establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing metal furniture of a type commonly used in dwellings.
Metal Household Furniture Manufacturing
Although most people may picture wrought-iron lawn chairs and tables when they think of metal household furniture, the industry's offerings are considerably more varied. In addition to lawn items, metal furniture includes kitchen and dining room tables and chairs, cabinets, hostess carts, beds, folding cots, folding card tables, and children's furniture such as play yards and high chairs.
More than 350 establishments operated in this segment in 2005, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, with most headquartered in California. That same year, the industry employed approximately 15,150 employees in the United States.
Metal furniture dates back almost as far as the use of wrought iron. Society had witnessed an extraordinary increase in the use of metal furniture by the end of the eighteenth century. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, both English and American craftsmen began constructing Windsor-style chairs in wrought iron. In 1851 at the Great Exhibition in London, England, the American Chair Co. of New York exhibited a metal-framed, sprung, revolving chair, one of several styles with frames made largely of cast iron, steel, or a combination of the two. By the 1890s, metal beds had become one of the most popular-selling furniture items in America.
With the development of steel and other innovations in metal production by American manufacturing companies during the 1920s and early 1930s, major impacts on furniture design were felt. The abundance of ready steel made it a popular and reasonably cheap material for furniture. One of the most dramatic new processes, discovered in the early 1920s by an American inventor named Mannesman, produced seamless tubular steel. This new material had the combined advantages of being light, strong, and modern.
The role that bent metal furniture played in the design culture of the 1920s and 1930s has never been equaled by any other material or at any other time in design history. The designs seemed to encompass an era. The development of modern tubular steel furniture can be seen in terms of the technical accomplishments of modern industrialization with its improved methods of steel production, metal plating, and welding—all of which helped to disseminate the new furniture to a wider market. But above all of this is the fact that steel furniture came from the world of modern art and architecture and its preoccupation with the idea and image of the machine.
For that reason, the major drawback to metal furniture was that its look appealed to a small, sophisticated market that enjoyed what was, at the time, called the Modern style of...