Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20050046243 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/640,194
Publication dateMar 3, 2005
Filing dateAug 14, 2003
Priority dateAug 14, 2003
Publication number10640194, 640194, US 2005/0046243 A1, US 2005/046243 A1, US 20050046243 A1, US 20050046243A1, US 2005046243 A1, US 2005046243A1, US-A1-20050046243, US-A1-2005046243, US2005/0046243A1, US2005/046243A1, US20050046243 A1, US20050046243A1, US2005046243 A1, US2005046243A1
InventorsLynne Cimino, Camilla Mathlein
Original AssigneeCimino Lynne Ann, Camilla Mathlein
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Versatile modular furniture unit
US 20050046243 A1
Abstract
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.
Images(13)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(20)
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 claim 1 being a square, rectangular, round, trapezoidal, or triangular in shape and made from a rigid material suitable for furniture construction.
3. The base structure of claim 1 having a floor panel onto which legs of any desired height or shape may be fixed.
4. The base structure of claim 1 wherein a plurality of sheets of rigid material, having both an outer and inner surface, are vertically fixed to said base structure's outside perimeter.
5. The sheets of rigid material of claim 4 wherein said sheets have a shallow notch centrally located on said sheet's top edge.
6. The sheets of rigid material of claim 4 wherein said sheets are fixed to one another, end to end, in a perpendicular relationship, in such a manner that the resulting form is suitable in strength to be used independently as the base structure of claim 1.
7. The base structure of claim 1 wherein pairs of seat support walls are vertically fixed, in parallel relationship to one another, in which the top edges of said walls horizontally support the seat panel of claim 1, whereby creating a suitable surface to support a seated human being.
8. The inside surface of the sheets of rigid material of claim 4 wherein pairs of table top support walls are vertically fixed, in parallel relationship to one another, in which the top edges of said walls horizontally support the table top panel of claim 1 whereby creating a suitable surface for holding items used by a seated human being.
9. The inside surface of the sheets of rigid material of claim 4 wherein pins or brackets are fixed, having the means to horizontally support the table top panel of claim 1 whereby creating a suitable surface for holding items used by a seated human being.
10. The base structure of claim 1 wherein slot systems are attached to or routed from the support walls of said base structure, each in mirror relationship, whereby said table top panel of claim 1 may be manually inserted and held in place in order to support the back of a seated human being.
11. The base structure of claim 1 wherein a hinge, pivot , pins, or brackets being the means for supporting table top panel of claim 1 in both horizontal and inclined positions.
12. The base structure of claim 1 wherein bottom stops in combination with the inner boundaries of said base structure being the means for supporting table top panel of claim 1 in an inclined position whereby said table top panel may be manually inserted and held in place in an inclined position to support the back of a seated human being.
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 claim 13 having three holes through the base of the channeled region of said base bar.
15. The base bar of rigid material of claim 13 wherein said bar is held in place, within the notch of claim 5, by a threaded fastener through the center hole located at the base of the channeled region of said base bar.
16. A second, smaller bar of rigid material, having an underside, and sized to loosely fit the channel of claim 13, having a pair of prongs fixed in perpendicular relationship to said underside of said smaller bar.
17. The base bar of rigid material of claim 13 and the smaller bar of rigid material of claim 16 wherein both said bars are made of metal with a plated finish.
18. The prongs of claim 16 being the means for holding the smaller bar of rigid material of claim 16 in place by the insertion of said prongs into drilled holes of claim 14.
19. The smaller bar of claim 16 having the means to manually lift, rotate, and reinsert into a position bridging across two aligned bars of claim 13, whereby linking two units together.
20. The bridging function of claim 19 being the means to link a plurality of like units being claimed, whereby making an infinite number of configurations of varying lengths, depths, and shapes.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not applicable

FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH

Not applicable

SEQUENCE LISTING OR PROGRAM

Not applicable

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

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.

OBJECTS AND ADVANTAGES

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.

SUMMARY

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.

DRAWINGS—FIGURES

In the drawings, closely related figures have the same number but different alphabetical suffixes. All drawings are in perspective view unless otherwise noted.

FIG. 1 shows seven units connected to form a sofa configuration

FIG. 1A shows the same seven units from FIG. 1 reconfigured as a large table and a chaise

FIG. 2 shows an exploded view of a table top being lifted from the unit, revealing a hinged seat panel

FIG. 2A shows a unit in its closed, table position

FIG. 3 shows an exploded view of the unit's open position revealing a storage compartment

FIG. 3A shows a unit converted to a chair (without cushions)

FIG. 4 shows two units connected to form a chaise (without cushions)

FIG. 5 shows an exploded view of a connector

FIG. 5A shows a pair of connectors in the process of connecting

FIG. 5B shows a pair of smaller bars lifting from the connector's base bar and rotating 90 degrees

FIG. 5C shows in plan view, a pair of connectors, aligned and unconnected

FIG. 5D shows in plan view, a pair of connectors aligned and connected

FIG. 6 shows two units in a connected chaise configuration (with cushions)

FIG. 6A shows a cushion set being converted to an ottoman cushion

FIG. 7 shows nine units configured as a bed

DRAWINGS—REFERENCE NUMERALS

  • 22 floor panel
  • 24 table top support walls
  • 26 seat support walls
  • 27 storage compartment
  • 28 legs
  • 30 connectors
  • 30 a base bar of rigid material
  • 30 b smaller bar of rigid material
  • 30 c channel
  • 30 d threaded fastener
  • 30 e prongs
  • 32 slot system
  • 32 a slot used for an upright seat back position
  • 32 b slot used for a reclined seat back position
  • 33 finger hole
  • 34 rigid seat panel
  • 35 concealed hinges
  • 36 table top panel (seat back)
  • 38 outer rigid panels
  • 38 a shallow notch
  • 38 b first hole
  • 38 c second hole
  • 38 d center hole
  • 40 base cushion
  • 40 a flap
  • 40 b additional hook and loop fastener strip
  • 42 back cushion
  • 42 a hook and loop fastener strip
DETAILED DESCRIPTION—FIGS. 2,3,4, AND 5—PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

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 (FIG. 3A).

FIG. 3 shows how the structural elements form a storage compartment 27. The storage compartment comprises two parallel facing, table top support walls 24, and two parallel facing seat support walls 26, which are fixed together perpendicularly creating an inner frame. The height of the seat support walls is less than the height of the table top support walls by the measured thickness of a rigid seat panel 34. A floor panel 22 is fixed below support walls 24 and 26 for stability and to create a bottom for the storage compartment. Inside mounted hinges 35 connect the seat panel to seat support walls 26.

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 (FIG. 2).

FIG. 3 shows rigid seat panel 34 open and FIG. 2 shows the seat panel closed. In its closed position, the seat panel lies perpendicular upon the top edge of seat support walls 26. The seat panel is sized to fit within the boundaries of two parallel facing table top support walls 24 and when closed, the seat panel's top surface lies flush with table top support walls 24.

FIG. 3 also shows four, identical, outer rigid panels 38, wrapping the storage compartment. The height of each outer panel is greater then table top support walls 24 by the measured thickness of table top panel 36 (FIG. 3). The table top panel rests loosely in a perpendicular relationship to the top edge of the table top support walls. The table top is sized to fit within the inner boundaries created by the outer panels and its top surface lies flush with the top edge of the outer panels when the table top is in its closed position. A finger hole 33 is drilled through one of the four outer panels at a point adjacent to slot system 32.

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.

FIG. 4 shows two units linked together by connectors 30, a preferred embodiment of our modular unit. FIG. 5 describes the connector in detail. The connector comprises a base bar of rigid material 30 a, and a smaller bar of rigid material 30 b. For our example of a square shaped unit, we chose to place four connectors centered on the top edge of each outer panel 38. A shallow notch 38 a is cut from outer panel 38 to accommodate the connector's base bar. Holes 38 b and 38 c are drilled to accept a pair of prongs 30 e which are fixed to the underside of the smaller bar. A threaded fastener 30 d holds the connector's base in place within the notch. Smaller bar 30 b sits loosely within a channel 30 c which is cut from the center of connector base 30 a. The smaller bar is held in place by inserting the prongs 30 e into holes 38 b and 38 c. We prefer the connector bars be formed from a material of greater density than the material used for the outer frame. Our prototype connector is made of steel, polished and chrome plated for aesthetic purposes.

DESCRIPTION OF ADDITIONAL EMBODIMENTS—FIGS. 6 AND 6A

FIG. 6 shows cushion sets which are designed specifically for use with the standardized unit of furniture being claimed. A cushion set comprises both a seat back cushion 42 and a base cushion 40. The width of all the cushions are identical and their heights need to be customized to fit the unit. Sewn to the back wall of base cushion 40 is a flap 40 a (FIG. 6 a). The loose end of the flap secures to the bottom of the base cushion via a hook and loop fastening system 40 b comprising both a male and female side. The male side of the fastening system is sewn to the underside of the flap and two strips of the female side of the fastening system is sewn to the underside of the base cushion. The cushions are filled with a mixture of down, feather and a thin foam insert (not shown).

Operation—FIGS. 1, 1A, 2, 2A, 3, 3A, 4, 5A, 5B, 5C, 5D, 7

FIGS. 1 and 1A represent two different furniture arrangements which can be created from combining seven of our modular units. These examples only braise the configuration possibilities. We have included these examples to show the overall aesthetics which may be obtained by manipulating and linking the individual units. Below we will describe in detail how to form such configurations.

The end user receives the unit in its closed, low table position (FIG. 2A). Cushions 40 and 42 are found inside storage compartment 27 (not shown). The first step is to change each unit into its upright chair position (FIG. 3A). This step accomplishes two objectives; (1) it creates a more convenient shape to maneuver and (2) it shows which direction to orient the unit if a seat back is desired. To change the unit from a table to a chair, the user manually lifts table top panel 36 from the unit (FIG. 2). Finger hole 33 enables the user to slightly push up one corner of the table top with their index finger (not shown). This step enables the user to now easily grip and remove the table top from it's previous flush position. Once the table top is removed, the shortened side of underlying seat panel 34 will reveal the location of two sets of slots 32 a and 32 b (FIG. 2). The table top is then slid into either of the two slots from the appropriate angle from above (FIG. 3). To get the feel of the angle, the user may open the seat panel to get a better visual orientation of the top sliding into the slots. This step should not be necessary after setting up one or two units as chairs.

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 (FIG. 3A). All units should then be placed in their desired location and seat backs should be positioned accordingly (FIG. 4). FIG. 5C shows how connectors 30 need to be aligned in mirror relationship with one another, before they can be linked. To link the connectors together, manually lift smaller bar 30 b out of channel 30 c (FIG. 5A). Keeping the smaller bar in a parallel orientation to connector base 30 a, rotate the smaller bar 90 degrees in either direction (FIG. 5B). Place prongs 30 e of the smaller bar in holes 38 b of both, aligned connector bases. The smaller bar forms a bridge over both connector bases, thereby linking their respective units together. Place the second smaller bar in the same bridged position, now Inserting prongs 30 e into holes 38 c. Complete this process for all adjacently placed connectors to link all units within the furniture arrangement.

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. FIG. 7 shows a guest bed configuration which would be an example of when you would definitely want to utilize the connection option to prevent the individual units from separating. Another benefit of connecting the units is, when in view, the connecting pieces create an attractive detail which enhances the aesthetic properties of the overall configuration (FIG. 5 d).

Operation of Additional Embodiments—FIGS. 6 and 6A

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).

FIG. 6 shows two cushion configurations; one suitable for use with the chair configuration and one for use with the unit's ottoman configuration. Cushion placements for the unit in either a chair or ottoman position is as follows: For use with the chair, seat back cushion 42 attaches to the underside of table top panel 36 with a hook and loop fastening system 42 a (FIG. 3 a). The underside of the table top panel should face upwards when inserted into the slot system. Orienting the top this way also keeps the top's finished side outward as it is visible from behind. Base cushion 40 simply sits in place atop seat panel 34. For use with an ottoman, the seat back and the base cushions are combined into one cushion (FIG. 6A). To combine the cushions, seat back cushion 42 rolls up and is held in place by flap 40 a. The flap secures to the underside of the base cushion via an additional hook and loop fastening strip 40 b. The resulting cushion's overall width and depth dimensions would then equal the overall with and depth dimensions of the unit. When converting this cushion back to use with the chair configuration, the cushion is removed, and the slack of the flap is taken in by securing the flap to the further placed female portion of the fastener system.

Advantages

From the description above, a number of advantages of our individual, versatile, unit become evident:

    • (a) End user does not need to decide the intended use of each unit at the time of purchase as each unit can be manipulated to create four different pieces of furniture; a table, a chair in upright back position, a chair in a reclined back position, or an ottoman.
    • (b) The only decision to make at time of purchase is the quantity of units.
    • (c) Connecting like units together does not require the use of tools and is easy enough for a child to do.
    • (d) The simple design and convenient placement of the connecting device makes rearranging furniture configurations quick, easy and fun to do.
    • (e) Each unit may be changed into any of the four available positions, even while it is linked to other like units, in any configuration.
    • (f) The cushion sets store inside the base structure of the unit.
    • (g) Inventory is easy to track and store as units are standardized and may be easily stacked due to their compact design.
    • (h) The footprint on a retail showroom floor space, is minimal due to the compact design of the units.
    • (i) Combining three, six, or nine units may create twin, full, and queen size beds, respectively.
    • (k) A large coffee table comprising four units easily reconfigures to become four chairs, if extra seating is needed.
    • (l) Each unit may be individually packaged and ready to be shipped by any ground or air carrier.
    • (m) The end user can easily adapt this furniture design to different dwellings by either adding or removing units to accommodate larger or smaller spaces.
      Conclusion, Ramifications, and Scope

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.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8763539Nov 10, 2009Jul 1, 2014Ymelda Maribel Odar PenaKit for the modular assembly of a piece of furniture in situ
US20120235370 *Mar 18, 2011Sep 20, 2012Jefim KirshnerCart chair
WO2008106537A1 *Feb 27, 2008Sep 4, 2008Designs Llc AkConvertible multi-functional furniture
WO2010055417A1 *Nov 10, 2009May 20, 2010Odar Pena Ymelda MaribelPortable, modular assembly of panels for the erection of furniture in situ
Classifications
U.S. Classification297/124
International ClassificationA47B85/04, A47C13/00
Cooperative ClassificationA47B85/04, A47C13/005, A47C7/42
European ClassificationA47C13/00M, A47B85/04, A47C7/42