US 20050046243 A1
An all inclusive, standard unit of modular furniture where same units link together contiguously to create larger furniture configurations. The unit of furniture disclosed, has the ability to convert from a table to an ottoman, to a chair by the manipulation of a table top panel's positioning within a base structure or storage compartment 27. The storage compartment 27 is formed by four support walls; two parallel facing table top support walls 24 and two parallel facing seat support walls 26. A slot system 32 comprising varying angles 32 a and 32 b, is routed from the seat support walls 26. The angles accept and hold in place, the table top panel 36. Once in place, the table top panel functions as the seat back of the chair. The varying angles of the slots 32 a and 32 b create the seat back positions which range from upright to reclined. When a table is desired, the table top panel 36 is removed from slot system 32 and placed horizontally across the top edges of table top support walls 24. Outer, rigid panels 38 wrap storage compartment 27. A base bar of rigid material 30 a is attached within a shallow notch 38 a at the center, top edge of each outer panel 38. A smaller bar 30 b bridges over two aligned connector bases 30 a from two side by side units, linking these units together. Cushions 40 and 42, specifically designed to store inside the base structure, may be added for comfort.
1. A unit of furniture to support a sitting human being, comprising:
a base structure having an inside compartment, a table top panel,
a seat panel, and a support for holding said table top panel in both a suitable position to support the back of a seated human being as well as a position for holding items used by a seated human being.
2. The base structure of
3. The base structure of
4. The base structure of
5. The sheets of rigid material of
6. The sheets of rigid material of
7. The base structure of
8. The inside surface of the sheets of rigid material of
9. The inside surface of the sheets of rigid material of
10. The base structure of
11. The base structure of
12. The base structure of
13. A base bar of rigid material having a centrally located channel being of the same width of said base bar, and a length of no less than two times it's width.
14. The base bar of rigid material of
15. The base bar of rigid material of
16. A second, smaller bar of rigid material, having an underside, and sized to loosely fit the channel of
17. The base bar of rigid material of
18. The prongs of
19. The smaller bar of
20. The bridging function of
1. Field of the Invention
This invention, in general, relates to modular furniture and more specifically to an individual, versatile, unit of modular furniture. The standard unit disclosed may be manually manipulated to create different types of furniture. This unit has the ability to link with other like units in order to form larger furniture pieces.
2. Background of the Invention
Originally, modular furniture created larger pieces of furniture from connecting smaller sections of furniture together. A later method connected base structures together and furniture pieces, of a specific function, were added atop the base structures. These furniture pieces were typically connected by fasteners from underneath the main frame. We have found reconfiguring past modular furniture physically awkward and time consuming.
The most desirable feature of modular furniture is its ability to be reconfigured. The more options available from the smallest number of sections, the more useful the modular system is. Hidden or concealed connection devices makes it difficult to reconfigure modular furniture. FIG. 3 of U.S. Pat. No. 4,077,666 to Heumann (1978) shows how the location of the connecting device could deter one from changing the configuration, once it has been assembled. Imagine the effort one would need to expend in changing the configurations shown in FIGS. 6 and 7 of U.S. Pat. No. 3,669,494 to Lohmeyer (1972). We would like to direct you to FIG. 27 of U.S. Pat. No. 3,241,885 to Deaton (1966). Although it appears the configuration possibilities are many, the actual number of tables, seats, or storage units possible would only depend on how many top pieces were purchased as such.
Many past modular furniture systems have fixed position of the seats, backs, and arm rests. U.S. Pat. No. 5,267,776 to Fromson (1993) shows how the fixed shape of a modular unit can limit the number of unique configurations possible. U.S. Pat. No. 5,630,644 to LaPointe (1997), U.S. Pat. No. 4,074,919 to Watts (1978), as well as U.S. Pat. No. 2,793,685 to Spitz (1953), all represent modular systems that can only be set up in one linear direction. The main benefits of owning such a system would only be realized during transport or when a straight row of seating is desired.
The intent of our design is to resolve all of the above limitations while combining the benefits of these past designs into one standard unit.
Accordingly, several objects and advantages of our invention are a pre assembled, single, compact, unit which is easily manipulated to form a variety of furniture configurations. Our unit has 3 main advantages over previous modular systems; (1) our unit has the ability to link to additional, like units on all sides, (2) our connecting device is conveniently located and easy enough for a child to use, and (3) there are no fixed arms or backs to limit the configuration possibilities.
Other objects and advantages are that each unit may be easily changed into four positions for different uses; (1) a low table, (2) a chair in an upright back position, (3) a chair in a relaxed back position, and (4) an ottoman. This versatility, built into the unit, provides two main advantages; (1) the user does not need to decide how the furniture is to be used or arranged at the time of purchase, and (2) the design possibilities increase exponentially as each additional unit is added. For example, the combination of two units would provide two to the fourth power or eight configuration choices. Combining three units would yield three to the fourth power or eighty one configuration possibilities and so on.
A further advantage is a basic cushion package which easily stores inside the base structure of the unit. When the cushion sets are removed, the inside compartment may be used to for additional storage needs, if desired.
An even further advantage is our individual, standardized unit makes it easy for the manufacturer and/or retailer to keep track of inventory as there are no extraneous parts or options that could be undersold. The one unit design simplifies order placing and tracking.
Further objects and advantages of our modular unit will become apparent from consideration of the drawings and ensuing description.
In accordance with the present invention, disclosed is a standardized article of furniture comprising a base structure with a storage capabilities, an independent table top panel, an internal slot system, connector pieces, and a set of cushions. The table top panel, which when manually lifted and inserted into the internal slot system creates a back rest, converting use of the base structure from a table to a chair. Like units link together in any linear direction to create larger furniture configurations. Cushions, specifically designed to accommodate any variation available from the standard unit, are included. The cushions store away within the unit's base structure when the unit is in its table position.
In the drawings, closely related figures have the same number but different alphabetical suffixes. All drawings are in perspective view unless otherwise noted.
FIGS. 3 best represents the unit's structural form, which is a preferred embodiment of our invention. The unit may be made from any rigid material suitable for furniture construction. The overall dimensions of each unit must be appropriate for a seated human being and our preferred shape, although not required to be so, is square. We prefer the overall height of the unit to be less than half of the overall width. The overall width of the unit is in direct proportion to the height when set up as a chair (
The unit is supported by four fixed legs 28 shown in a cross pattern. Level adjusting feet 28 a are attached to the underside of each leg. Slots 32 a and 32 b are cut out from each table top support wall in mirror relation to the parallel facing table top support wall. The angle of slot 32 a is greater than angle of slot 32 b. The seat panel is shortened on the side opposite hinges 35 by just enough to expose the top edge of the angled slots (
We prefer to use high quality, solid, lumber for outer panels 38 and wood veneered plywood for seat panel 34 and table top panel 36. We prefer storage compartment panels 22, 24, and 26 to be made from a paint grade wood, or plywood, to reduce cost. All exposed edges of our prototype are reinforced with hardwood edging for durability as well as for providing a finished appearance.
The end user receives the unit in its closed, low table position (
Once the unit is converted to its chair position, table top panel 36, which is now the seat back, serves as a convenient handle to maneuver the unit with (
The end user may choose not to connect the units. Connecting the units is for the convenience of keeping the units in place and to minimize misalignments from occurring with use.
Operation of Additional Embodiments—
The cushion set comprises a base cushion 40 and a seat back cushion 42. The cushion sets come stored in storage compartment 27 in the base of the unit. The nature of the down fill allows the cushion to compress to a smaller size and fit into the storage compartment (not shown).
From the description above, a number of advantages of our individual, versatile, unit become evident:
Accordingly, the reader will see that the versatile, compact, modular, unit disclosed can be very useful when furnishing small spaces. It is common, typically in urban apartments, not to have separate rooms for dining, living or sleeping, but one studio area which is used for all activities. Our modular unit therefore enables the user to furnish their studio apartment a either a living room, a dining room, or a bedroom, simply by reconfiguring the units of this modular unit into sofas, tables, and beds, respectively. Even when user moves to a larger space, additional units may be purchased to create larger furniture pieces. The cushions store inside the unit which is a desirable feature when space is limited. When cushions are in use, the storage compartment may be used to store additional items.
Although the description above contains many specifications, these should not be construed as limiting the scope of the modular unit but as merely providing illustrations of some of the presently preferred embodiments of this invention. For example, the units could have other shapes, such as rectangular, circular, oval, trapezoidal, or triangular. The connecting device could be excluded or altered in design. The slot system may be replaced with a pivot or hinge. A bottom stop and the confines of the base structure could be used to support the top in its inclined positions. The storage compartment may be created from only the outer panels and the support walls may be replaced by channels, brackets, pins or the like.
Thus the scope of the modular unit should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, rather than by the examples given.