Metal beds are manufactured from different types of metals such as iron, steel, brass, satin nickel and aluminum. These beds vary from the plain and simple to highly ornate and decorative. Metal bed styles from 1910 to 1940 offered consumers designs many wooden beds couldn't emulate. Headboards and foot boards often contained scrolled detail work with ornamental finial caps at the top of the bedposts.
America's Art Nouveau era ran from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. This style is characterized by floral and other plant-life motifs as well as flowing, sinuous lines. Art Nouveau, French for "new art," was a consequence of the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700s, when the manual labor-based economy shifted toward machine-based manufacturing. Some artists welcomed technological progress, but others deplored the shoddiness of mass-produced, machine-made goods. As a result, these artists elevated the decorative arts by applying the highest standards of craftsmanship and design to everyday objects, such as furniture, clothing and jewelry.
Art Deco was a common metal bed style of the 1920s and 1930s. It combined smooth finishes and sharp curves with a distinctive modern look. Strong ornamentation around the distinctive lines was seen up until the Great Depression, when it was replaced with subdued heavy outlines. Sharp curves eventually gave way to rounded corners. The phrase "Art Deco" was coined in the late 1960s by historian Bevis Hiller to describe the modern 20th century design.
Austere iron beds were a response to the Great Depression, when ornamentation was dramatically reduced and replaced with clean, bold lines. Strong, sharp angles became simple curves. Media such as brass and satin nickel were succeeded by materials such as iron, cement and glass. The word "austere" refers to lack of comfort and luxury, but this metal bed style is considered unpretentious and sleekly modern.