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Publication numberUS20060254471 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/127,860
Publication dateNov 16, 2006
Filing dateMay 12, 2005
Priority dateMay 12, 2005
Also published asCA2608360A1, WO2006124837A1
Publication number11127860, 127860, US 2006/0254471 A1, US 2006/254471 A1, US 20060254471 A1, US 20060254471A1, US 2006254471 A1, US 2006254471A1, US-A1-20060254471, US-A1-2006254471, US2006/0254471A1, US2006/254471A1, US20060254471 A1, US20060254471A1, US2006254471 A1, US2006254471A1
InventorsRobert Luchetti, Matthew Bushey, David Brothers
Original AssigneeRobert Luchetti Associates, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Flexible modesty panel for furniture
US 20060254471 A1
Abstract
A flexible modesty panel is able to conform to curved furniture shapes to allow the modesty panel to be used in connection with furniture such as continuous classroom desk systems that may assume an arbitrary configuration. For example, the flexible modesty panel may be used with a modular desk system configured to form rows of continuous curving desk surfaces. The modesty panel may have a plurality of grooves on one side. Panels may be longitudinally interconnected using connectors disposed within the grooves and may supported using panel support brackets that connect to the grooves. Bolts having oblong heads that are designed to slip into the grooves in the modesty panel enable panel support brackets to be connected at arbitrary positions along the length of the modesty panel. A top groove in the modesty panel may be provided to enable name cards to be supported on the top edge of the modesty panel.
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Claims(19)
1. A flexible modesty panel for furniture, comprising:
a first modesty panel section configured to be pliable in a longitudinal direction to enable the modesty panel section to assume a desired radius of curvature.
2. The flexible modesty panel of claim 1, further comprising at least a second modesty panel, configured like the first modesty panel, and joined to the first modesty panel section to form a continuous modesty panel.
3. The flexible modesty panel of claim 1, wherein a groove is defined along a top edge of the flexible modesty panel, said groove being configured to a hold name card associated with a person located at that longitudinal place along the modesty panel.
4. The flexible modesty panel of claim 1, wherein the modesty panel section is formed to have a plurality of elongate grooves formed in the longitudinal direction.
5. The flexible modesty panel of claim 4, wherein the elongate grooves are formed by a plurality of elongate T-shaped protrusions.
6. The flexible modesty panel of claim 5, wherein the modesty panel sections are connected by splices configured to fit within said grooves and engage edges of said T-shaped protrusions.
7. The flexible modesty panel of claim 5, wherein the inside edges of said T-shaped protrusions are configured to engage a head of a bolt to resist the bolt from being extricated from the groove in the modesty panel.
8. The flexible modesty panel of claim 7, wherein the grooves are configured to be on a back surface of the flexible modesty panel, and wherein the grooves are configured to enable the flexible modesty panel to be engaged by the bolts to support the modesty panel relative to an associated furniture surface.
9. The flexible modesty panel of claim 1, further comprising a decorative surface on a front surface of the modesty panel.
10. The flexible modesty panel of claim 9, wherein the decorative surface comprises a plurality of longitudinally aligned triangular ridges.
11. The flexible modesty panel of claim 1, wherein the modesty panel comprises a plurality of longitudinally aligned grooves, and the modesty panel further comprises at least one support bracket configured to engage a first set of the grooves of the modesty panel to hold the modesty panel in a first vertical position relative to an adjacent object.
12. The flexible modesty panel of claim 11, wherein the first vertical position may be changed by causing the support bracket to engage a second set of grooves of the modesty panel.
13. The flexible modesty panel of claim 11, further comprising an E-shaped bracket configured to engage a second set of grooves of the modesty panel at an end of the modesty panel to enable a junction to be formed between the modesty panel and a side modesty panel.
14. A modesty panel for a curved desk system, the modesty panel comprising:
at least one longitudinally elongated flexible modesty panel positioned about an edge of curved desk system and flexed to approximate a radius of curvature of the curved desk system; and
a plurality of brackets configured to attach to the curved desk system and engage the longitudinally elongated flexible modesty panel.
15. The modesty panel of claim 14, wherein the curved desk system comprises a plurality of modular table tops supported by support plates.
16. The modesty panel of claim 14, wherein the elongated flexible modesty panel has a plurality of longitudinally extending T-shaped projections defining elongate grooves running a significant portion of the length of the modesty panel.
17. The modesty panel of claim 16, wherein the brackets are configured to engage at least one of the elongate grooves to support the modesty panel in a predetermined vertical position relative to the curved desk system.
18. The modesty panel of claim 14, wherein the longitudinally elongated flexible modesty panel is configured to be disposed along a curved edge of the curved desk system, the modesty panel further comprising an end modesty panel section configured to attach to the longitudinally elongated flexible modesty panel at a corner junction.
19. The modesty panel of claim 18, further comprising an E-shaped bracket configured to attach to an end of the longitudinally elongated flexible modesty panel, and an L-shaped bracket configured to adjustably attach to the E-shaped bracket, wherein the combination of the E-shaped bracket and the L-shaped bracket enable the corner junction to be positioned a desired distance from the edge of the curved desk system.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to furniture such as desks and tables and, more particularly, to a flexible modesty panel for furniture.

2. Description of the Related Art

Educational facilities generally have many classrooms to enable multiple classes to occur simultaneously. Initially, classrooms were simply rooms with desks or chairs where the students could sit in the presence of the lecturer. As teaching styles developed, classroom design changed as well to suit the different teaching styles. Thus, the configuration of a classroom may depend on the intended teaching style which, frequently, depends on the subject matter to be taught in the classroom. The type of furniture and the particular design of the furniture to be used in the classroom will similarly depend on the classroom configuration.

One common way of configuring a classroom is to create long desk surfaces surrounding a central presentation area. Chairs spread along the long desk surface allow students to face the presentation area while seated along the desk surface. The desk surfaces may be straight to form straight rows, or may be curved to form curved rows about the central presentation area, depending on the configuration of the classroom. Classrooms of this nature are widely used in specialized educational facilities, such as law schools and business schools, and are increasingly being implemented in other types of educational facilities such as colleges, universities, and high-schools. Additionally, facilities that are not primarily educational, such as office buildings, are starting to install classrooms to enable on-site training to be provided to employees.

Although classrooms with curved desk surfaces may have certain advantages over other classroom configurations for particular teaching styles, the desk surfaces for use in a classroom of this nature must often be custom-designed for that classroom. Specifically, where the desk surfaces are to be formed as arcs surrounding the central presentation area, each desk surface will need to be formed to have a different radius of curvature given that it is to be placed a different distance from the presentation area. The modesty panels for use in such a classroom must be formed to fit the desk surfaces and, hence, must be customized for the particular classroom as well. The customization associated with fabricating the modesty panels increases the costs associated with outfitting a classroom which, in turn, may inhibit proliferation of such classrooms.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A flexible modesty panel allows a conforming modesty panel to be provided with curved desk systems disposed in an arbitrary configuration. According to one embodiment, the flexible modesty panel is configured to have a plurality of grooves enabling the modesty panel to be secured to the modular furniture components or other types of furniture systems at a desired height. Panels may be secured to each other using modular in-line connectors and may be connected to the desk surfaces using panel support brackets. Specially designed bolts having oblong heads are designed to slip into the grooves in the modesty panel and engage lips on the edges of the modesty panel grooves to enable the panel support brackets to be connected at arbitrary positions along the length of the modesty panel. A top groove in the modesty panel may be provided to enable name cards to be supported on the top edge of the modesty panel. The modesty panel may be used with the classroom table system described herein or with other tables, desks, table systems, or furniture.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Aspects of the present invention are pointed out with particularity in the appended claims. The present invention is illustrated by way of example in the following drawings in which like references indicate similar elements. The following drawings disclose various embodiments of the present invention for purposes of illustration only and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention. For purposes of clarity, not every component may be labeled in every figure. In the figures:

Aspects of the present invention are pointed out with particularity in the appended claims. The present invention is illustrated by way of example in the following drawings in which like references indicate similar elements. The following drawings disclose various embodiments of the present invention for purposes of illustration only and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention. For purposes of clarity, not every component may be labeled in every figure. In the figures:

FIGS. 1 and 2 are block diagrams of classrooms including rows of desk surfaces created from modular furniture components according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 3 is a front elevational view of a portion of a desk surface according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 4 is a top view of a support plate according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 5A is a top view of a table top configured to be used in an embodiment of the invention;

FIGS. 5B, 5D, and 5E are top views of the table top of FIG. 5A supported by support plates of approximately the same size according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 5C is a front view of the desk system of FIG. 5B;

FIG. 6A is a top view of another table top shape configured to be used in an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 6B-6D are top views of the table top of FIG. 6A supported by support plates of approximately the same size according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 7A is a top view of another table top shape configured to be used in an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 7B-7D are top views of the table top of FIG. 7A supported by support plates of approximately the same size according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 8 is a front paraline exploded view of a portion of a desk system according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 9 is a front perspective view of a modesty panel according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 10 is a side view in partial cross-section of a portion of the modesty panel and a splice according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 11 is a side view in partial cross-section of a portion of the modesty panel and a L-shaped support bracket according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIGS. 12 and 13 are top views of an attaching bolt that may be used to secure items to the modesty panel of FIG. 11;

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of the bolt of one of FIGS. 12 and 13;

FIGS. 15 and 16 are top views illustrating the junction between a front modesty panel and a side modesty panel as the radius of curvature of the desk system is changed;

FIG. 17 is a perspective view of an E-shaped corner bracket according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 18 is a side view illustrating two alternative techniques of connecting an L-shaped support bracket to the modesty panel according to an embodiment of the invention; and

FIG. 19 is a series of side views in partial cross-section, of a modesty panel and support bracket system illustrating a plurality of available height options for the modesty panel.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The following detailed description sets forth numerous specific details to provide a thorough understanding of the invention. However, those skilled in the art will appreciate that the invention may be practiced without these specific details. In other instances, well-known methods, procedures, components, protocols, algorithms, and circuits have not been described in detail so as not to obscure the invention.

FIGS. 1 and 2 are block diagrams of classrooms 10 configured using furniture designed according to an embodiment of the invention. In the deployment shown in FIG. 1, the desk surfaces 12 are configured to form straight rows while in the deployment shown in FIG. 2, the desk surfaces 12 are configured to form curved rows with different radii of curvature (R1 and R2). Other desk surface shapes may be constructed as well, such as rows including both straight and curved portions, and the invention is not limited to the particular deployments illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2.

As shown in FIG. 1, the classroom 10 includes a presentation area 14, which may include a desk, podium, or other teaching stand, and may also include other common teaching aids such as white boards, chalk boards, video presentation equipment, and other commonly available teaching aids. The classroom also includes a student seating area 16 which may include chairs 18 and elongated desk surfaces 12 formed in rows.

According to an embodiment of the invention, the desk surfaces 12 are formed from modular table tops 20 supported by support plates 22 which allow the table tops to be angularly adjusted relative to each other. Specifically, the table tops 20 may be supported by the support plates 22 at an arbitrary angle relative to a neighboring table top so that the combination of table tops and support plates allow a unified desk surface of arbitrary shape and radius to be approximated. Additionally, the support plates allow gaps between adjacent table tops to be spanned so that a continuous desk surface may be created using discrete modular table tops 20 and support plates 22.

For example, as shown in FIG. 2, the table tops may be disposed at selected angles relative to each other to enable the table tops and support plates to form arcuate continuous desk surfaces having different radii (R1, R2) in a classroom setting. Other classroom configurations are possible as well and the invention is not limited to a classroom having straight or arcuate shapes. Rather, any common classroom configuration may be approximated using the modular table tops and support plates, so that classroom desk surfaces may be formed without requiring the design and fabrication of custom furniture for the particular classroom.

The support plates are supported by pedestals 24 and the table tops are bolted or otherwise secured to the support plates so that the table tops may be fully supported by the support plates without requiring the table tops to have an independent set of legs. Optionally, the rows of tables may be mounted on risers relative to the presentation area, in which case the pedestals may be attached to the riser floor or the riser ridge extending between riser floors.

FIG. 3 illustrates an embodiment of the invention in which a pedestal 24 is provided to elevate the support plate 22 relative to the ground surface 26. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 3, the pedestal 24 has a base 28 configured to bolt or otherwise attach to the floor of the classroom. The base 28 in the illustrated embodiment supports two chairs 18 in a self-retracting manner such that the chairs will be pulled toward the table tops 20 when not in use. The invention is not limited to the use of a pedestal that includes self-retracting chairs, however, as other types of chairs may be used as well. An example of a chair that may be used in connection with an embodiment of the invention is described in greater detail in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/076,358, filed Mar. 9, 2005, and entitled Chair With Self-Adjusting Chair Back, the content of which is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

The pedestal 24 includes post 30 to extend between the base 28 and the support plate 22. The post 30 may extend straight upward or may angle away from the base 28 (e.g. forward) to allow the support plate to be supported at a region other than directly over the base 28. For example, the post 30 may extend forward so that the base 28 may be mounted to the riser and the support plate may extend over the edge of the riser. Additionally, causing the post to extend forward allows the location of the pivot point of the self-retracting chairs to be placed closer to the rear edge of the table top to make it easier for the users to get into and out of the chairs. The invention is not limited to the use of a particular configuration for the pedestal 24 as many different configurations may be possible.

The post 30 connects to the support plate 22 using an appropriate attachment mechanism, such as bolts or rivets. Other permanent attachment techniques may be used as well, such as by welding the support plate 22 to the post 30. The invention is not limited to the particular manner in which this connection is made.

Optionally, an electrical module 32 having one or more data ports 34 and/or electrical outlets 36 may be provided on the support plate to allow users to connect a laptop computer to a computer network and to allow users to power electrical devices that may need to be used in the classroom. Optionally, electrical wires 38 and data cables 40 required to service the electrical module 32 may be channeled through the pedestal 24, although other wire keeping mechanisms may be used as well.

In the illustrated embodiment, the support plate 22 is disposed under the table tops 20 to provide support to the table tops. The invention is not limited in this manner, however, as the support plate may be configured to extend over the top of the table tops 20 or into a groove carved in the edge of the table tops 20. For example, the support plates may be formed of ⅛ inch or 3/16 inch stainless steel or other metal and beveled to attach so that an edge of the support plate merges into the top surface of the table top. Thus, many combinations of support plates and table tops may be possible and the invention is not limited to the several illustrated embodiments.

FIG. 4 illustrates an example of a support plate 18 that may be used in connection with desk system according to an embodiment of the invention. As shown in FIG. 4, the support plate 22 has a front edge 42 designed to be closer to the edge of the desk facing the chairs, and has a rear edge 44 away from the edge of the desk where the users will be sitting.

In the illustrated example, the table tops are relatively trapezoidal in shape, which allows the inter-table spacing, when measured along the front edge 42 of the support plate 36, to vary depending on the relative angle α between adjoining tables, while allowing the inter-table spacing, when measured along the rear edge 44, to remain relatively constant. The opposite configuration may be used as well, where the inter-table spacing along the front edge 42 is caused to remain relatively constant, and the rear table corners are allowed to be disposed at different distances relative to each other. Additionally, optionally, the tables may be connected to the support plates intermediate the front and rear edges so that the inter-table spacing at the middle of the plate may be relatively constant. The invention is thus not limited to the particular embodiments described herein.

The support plate may include a first set of apertures 46 located adjacent the rear edge of the support plate 30, and through which bolts may be used to connect the table tops to the support plate. The first set of apertures 46 allow the rear edge 44 of the support plate 22 to be connected to the table tops 20 in a consistent manner to achieve regular inter-table spacing along the rear edge of the desk system. Specifically, the apertures 46 close to the rear edge 44 may accept bolts (not shown) that will engage a mating nut or otherwise engage the material of the table top 20 to secure the corner of the table top to the support plate. By using apertures 46 approximating the size of the bolts, the inter-table spacing along the rear edge 38 may be maintained regardless of the orientation of the tables relative to each other.

Since the table tops are to be mountable at different angles relative to the support plate, an arcuate connector 48 is formed in at least one of the support plate 22 and the table top 20 to enable variably positioned interconnection of the support plate and table top to occur closer to the front edge 42 of the support plate 22. The radius of curvature (R3) of the arcuate connector 48 may be set to be coincident with the distance between the aperture 46 and the respective arcuate connector 48 so that a mating connector may connect with a portion of the arcuate connector at any desired position. For example, the arcuate connector may be an arcuate aperture in the support plate through which a bolt may engage an aperture 50 in the table. Alternatively, the arcuate connector may be a groove carved in the table top through which a bolt may engage the table top via an appropriately disposed aperture in the connector plate. Other connection systems may be used as well and the invention is not limited to one of these connection systems.

The support plate may have additional features, such as an aperture 52 to receive or accept an electrical module 32. As shown in FIG. 4, the electrical module should be located in a portion of the support plate 22 that is not intended to support the table tops 18. In the illustrated embodiment, the data port has been drawn as relatively close to the rear surface 44, since the mounting location of the table tops 20 is configured to be fixed along the rear edge. Specifically, since the tables are fixed along the rear edge, sufficient room to support the data port should be available regardless of the manner in which the tables are disposed relative to each other. The invention is not limited in this manner, as the electrical module may be placed in another suitable location or, alternatively, multiple electrical modules may be provided on the support plate.

In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 5, the front corners along the front edge 42 are beveled 54 to prevent the corners from sticking out from the front surface of the table tops when the tops are angled relative to each other. The invention is not limited in this regard, as alternatively a square or other shaped support plate may be used.

The support plates 22 may be formed of metal, plastic, wood, or another material capable of supporting the weight of the table tops, books, and other items commonly placed on table tops in an educational environment. The table tops may be made of wood such as furniture grade particle board covered with a melamine or other laminate surface, may be made of a solid surface, or may be made of a plastic such as a blow-molded plastic. The invention is not limited to the type of material used to make the table tops or support plates.

The support plates may be relatively small in comparison to the table tops 20 as shown in FIGS. 1-4 or, as shown in FIGS. 5A-5D, 6A-6D, and 7A-7D, may be sized to approximate the table tops. FIG. 5C illustrates a front view of the desk system of this embodiment where the support plates are configured to be of approximately the same sizes as the table tops. Sizing the support plates to be relatively large may allow the support plate to be used as additional writing areas by students in the classroom. In these several figures, the shape of the trapezoids is varied such that both surfaces are straight (FIGS. 5A-5D), one surface is straight and one has a slight curvature (FIGS. 6A-6D), or to have two slightly curved surfaces (FIGS. 7A-7D). The invention is thus not limited to the use of a perfect trapezoid but rather may extend to use table tops shaped in other ways.

The angle β (see FIG. 5A) of the trapezoid and the length of the tables determines the minimum radius of curvature that may be formed in a desk system using the modular tables described herein. Accordingly, these parameters may be adjusted to allow typical deployments to occur without requiring modification of the tables. For example, in one embodiment of the invention the angle β between the front and side edges of the trapezoidal shaped table top is between about 70 and 80, and more particularly approximately 74, although the invention is not limited in this manner as other angles may be used as well. Where the table is to seat two people, the table top may be designed to have a front surface of approximately five to six feet. The invention is also not limited in this manner, however, as other sized table tops may be used without departing from the present invention.

FIG. 8 illustrates an exploded view of an embodiment of the invention in which a flexible modesty panel is provided in connection with the desk system. As shown in FIG. 8, and as described above, the desk system includes table tops 20′ supported by support plates 22, each of which is configured to mate with a pedestal 24. A flexible modesty panel 56 may be attached to the table top or support plates using an L-shaped support bracket 58. The modesty panel 56 may be supported on its ends by an E-shaped corner bracket 60 configured to engage the modesty panel 56 and an end support bracket 62. The end support bracket 62 connects to a modesty panel end piece 64 configured to shield the underside of the desks at the end of a row of tables. Additional details about each of the pieces associated with the modesty panel and the various brackets that may be used to attach the modesty panel to the tables are provided below.

The table described herein may be used with the modesty panel described below, or alternatively, the table may be provided with no modesty panel or provided with a differently configured modesty panel. Similarly, the modesty panel described herein may be used with the desk system described herein, other desk systems including custom made desk systems, tables, desks, and other types of furniture. The modesty panel and desk system, while configured to work together, are not limited to being used together as each may be used alone or in combination with other respective components.

FIG. 9 illustrates one embodiment of a flexible modesty panel 56 that may be used with the desk system described herein or with another piece of furniture such as another desk system, desk, or table. Providing a flexible modesty panel allows the same modesty panel to be used with a desk system regardless of the configuration of the desk system. Specifically, by making the modesty panel flexible, the same modesty panel sections may be used to create a continuous arc shape of arbitrary radius of curvature to allow the modesty panel to be used in a classroom setting, such as in connection with a group of table tops and support plates forming a desk surface as discussed in greater detail above. Additionally, the flexible modesty panel allows the modesty panel to conform to other curved shapes depending on the particular type of application with which it is to be used. For example, the flexible modesty panel could be used with desks having a curved rear edge. Thus, the flexible modesty panel may be used in a plurality of different settings.

As shown in FIG. 9, the modesty panel 56 may be configured with a plurality of elongate grooves 66 to enable the modesty panel to be attached to the support brackets 58, 60 to be supported relative to the table. By providing a plurality of grooves along the inside surface, optionally at regular vertical intervals, the support brackets 58, 60 may be attached to the modesty panel at different heights and, hence, the top edge 68 of the modesty panel 56 may be adjusted relative to the top surface of the tables. For example, where the modesty panel is to extend only to the top edge of the table top, the support brackets 58, 60 used to attach the modesty panel to the desk system may be attached to one or more of the elongate grooves 66 relatively close to the top edge 68. Where the top edge is to extend above the top surface of the table top, a set of grooves downward from the top edge may be selected.

Optionally, the modesty panel may have a textured front exterior surface 70, for example including a plurality of vertically spaced triangular ridges 72 extending the length of the modesty panel. These or other decorative surfaces may be extruded with the panel, embossed on the surface of the modesty panel, or otherwise provided to enhance the appearance of the modesty panel. The invention is not limited to a particular type of decorative front surface 70.

A top groove 74 may be created to run the length of the modesty panel to allow name cards to be inserted into the top edge 68 of the modesty panel. The name cards may be used to designate particular seats as being assigned to individuals, or may be used to identify the individual seated at that position to the person making the presentation and other students in the classroom.

The modesty panel 56 may be formed of a plurality of pieces which are joined together by a splice mechanism 76. One example of a splice mechanism 76 that may be used, for example, is illustrated in FIG. 9. As shown in FIG. 9, the splice mechanism 76 has two pieces 78, 80 of material such as metal, that are configured to be received in ends of the grooves 66 of respective pieces of material that are being joined together. Once inserted into the grooves, the two pieces 78, 80, may be caused to move away from each other (e.g. by turning screws or bolts disposed through the splice) such that one piece 78 impinges on the back wall of the groove 66 and the other piece 80 impinges the front edges of the groove 66.

FIG. 10 shows a cross-sectional view of a splice mechanism 76 inserted into one of the grooves 66 of the modesty panel 56. As shown in FIG. 10, the grooves 66 of the modesty panel 56 are formed by adjacent T-shaped protrusions 82, which define front interior surfaces 84, side interior surfaces 86, and a back interior surface 88. When the pieces of the splice 76 move away from each other (e.g. by turning bolt 90), the front piece 80 engages the front surfaces 84 of adjacent T-shaped protrusions 82 and the rear piece 78 engages the back interior surface 88 of the groove 66. Engagement of these pieces (78, 80) with the surfaces of the groove 66 prevents the splice 76 from sliding along the groove 66. By disposing a portion of the splice 76 into grooves of adjacent sections of modesty panel 56, the modesty panel sections may be joined together. A similar mechanism may be used to secure the prongs 92 of the E-shaped corner bracket 60 (see FIG. 17) within the grooves 66 of the modesty panel 56 to secure the E-shaped corner bracket 60 to the modesty panel 56 and, hence, allow the modesty panel to be secured at its ends.

L-shaped support brackets 58 and other elements of interest, such as optionally shelves or hooks, may be secured to the modesty panel using bolts 92 that are designed to fit into the grooves 66 and engage the front interior surfaces 84 of the T-shaped protrusions 82. FIG. 11 illustrates an L-shaped support bracket 58 attached to the modesty panel 56, and FIGS. 12-14 illustrate embodiments of a bolt that may be configured to perform this purpose. As shown in these figures, the bolt 92 has a head 94 and a shaft 96. The head 94, in this example, is elongated in one direction and thin in the other, so that the thin dimension (a) of the bolt will allow the bolt to fit between the edges 96 of the T-shaped protrusions 82 to slip into the grooves 66 in the modesty panel 56 intermediate the ends of the modesty panel. At the same time, the elongated portions of the head 94 are designed to be of sufficient length (b) to engage the interior side surfaces 86 when the bolt is turned relative to the groove 66.

By inserting the bolt 90 into the groove 66 and turning the bolt through an angle approaching 90 degrees, the longer portions of the head 94 will engage the front interior surfaces 84 causing the bolt to be placed in a position where it is able to exert force against the front interior surfaces 84 and, hence, to hold onto the modesty panel. Optionally, the long portions of the head of the bolt may be configured to be slightly longer than an interior dimension of the groove 66 such that the edges 98 of the long portion of the head 94 of the bolt 92 will butt against the side interior surfaces 86 of the groove 66 to prevent the head of the bolt from turning within the groove more than a particular amount. This enables the bolt to be tightened to nut 100 while positioned within the groove without requiring a tool to hold the head of the bolt 92 from turning within the groove.

The modesty panel may be made of one or more resilient pliable plastic sheets of appropriate width and thickness, and extend the length of the row of tables. These sheets may be supported by L-shaped support brackets 58 intermediate the ends and may be supported on the ends by a combination of an E-shaped corner bracket 60 and an end support bracket 62 and a modesty panel end piece 64.

To allow the radius of curvature of the modesty panel to remain relatively constant at the end of a row of tables, the junction between the modesty panel 56 and the modesty panel end piece 64 may be adjustable relative to the edge of the tables. For example, as shown in FIG. 15, where the tables tops are positioned in a straight line, the modesty panel will follow the straight line of the edges of the tables and the joint 104 between the front modesty panel 56 and the modesty panel end piece 64 will be relatively close to the front edge of the tables. However, as shown in FIG. 16 where the tables are positioned in an arc, to allow the modesty panel to have an arced shape at the ends of the rows of desks, the joints 104 between the front modesty panel 56 and the modesty panel end piece 64 will need to be formed a distance away from the edge of the table.

According to an embodiment of the invention, end support bracket 62 is attached to the support plate 22 at the end of the row of tables. The end support bracket 62 has a plurality of horizontally oriented elongate apertures 63 formed to allow the modesty panel end piece 64 to be attached to the vertical portion of the end support bracket 62 at a desired horizontal position relative to the end piece. For example, the modesty panel end piece 64 may be formed from melamine and carry pre-threaded inserts configured to receive bolts disposed through the elongate apertures 63.

The modesty panel end piece is attached to the E-shaped corner bracket 60 using bolts or another appropriate attachment mechanism. By mounting the modesty panel end piece relative to the support plate 22 at a desired horizontal location, the junction 104 between the modesty panel end piece 64 and the modesty panel 56 may be positioned at a desired distance away from the front edge of the tables. The invention is not limited to this particular described embodiment, as other ways of enabling the modesty panel 56 to assume a relatively uniform radius of curvature may be employed as well. For example, the end support bracket 62 may be adjustably connected to the support plate 22 and fixed directly to the E-shaped corner bracket or, alternatively, made integral with the E-shaped corner bracket and thus configured to directly carry the expandable plates 84 of the E-shaped corner bracket.

As mentioned above, the modesty panel is supported intermediate its ends via L-shaped support brackets 58 attached to the table tops 20. Optionally, the modesty panel may also be attached to the support plates 22 disposed between the table tops using L-shaped support brackets 58. However, as with the end junction described above, the junction between the modesty panels and support plates will vary depending on the amount of curvature of the desk system. Thus, since the distance between the support plate and modesty panel will vary depending on the radius of curvature of the modesty panel, the L-shaped support brackets 58 may have elongated slot-shaped apertures formed in their upper surfaces to allow the L-shaped support brackets 58 to be attached to the support plates at different relative locations. This allows the downwardly dependent portion of the L-shaped support bracket to be spaced a desired distance from the rear edge of the support panel depending on the particular configuration of the desk surface and associated modesty panel.

The E-shaped corner bracket 60 is illustrated in greater detail in FIG. 17. As shown in FIG. 17, the corner bracket has one or more pairs of plates 92 that are designed to expand to engage the interior surfaces 84, 86 of the grooves 66 of the modesty panel 56 in a manner similar to the splices 76 described above in connection with FIGS. 9 and 10. The E-shaped corner bracket also has a plurality of apertures 86 through which bolts may extend to engage the modesty panel end piece 64.

As described above, the modesty panels may be formed with a plurality of grooves on one surface to allow the modesty panels to be connected at any point along their surface to support brackets to thereby allow the modesty panels to be used regardless of the radius of curvature of the desk system to which they are attached. The modesty panels may be secured using bolts such as the bolts described above in connection with FIGS. 13-14, or may be configured to receive appropriately configured appendages 108 on support brackets 58′, such as the protrusions illustrated in FIG. 18.

In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 18, one support bracket 58 is designed to be connected to the modesty panel 56 using bolts 90 and the other support bracket 58′ is designed to have mating appendages 108 that are configured to fit within the grooves 66 defined by the T-shaped protrusions 82 on the modesty panel 56. The mating appendages 108 may be slid into the grooves from the end of the modesty panel or may be pushed into the grooves 66 intermediate the ends of the modesty panel such as by bending the panel about a lateral axis to open the grooves or by angling the front faces of the mating appendages.

Three examples of shapes that may be used to form the appendages have been illustrated in FIG. 18. In practice, one shape would most likely be selected for the appendages. In particular, the appendages 108 have been illustrated as assuming a relatively rectangular shape 110, a rectangular shape with beveled edges 112, and an arrow-shaped portion 114 having flexible ends 116 that may be bent toward a central shaft 118 to allow the appendage 108 to more easily push into the groove 66.

To provide stability to the modesty panel, a bracket 58, 58′ may have more than one appendage 108 or a bolt 90 vertically spaced along its length to allow the bracket 58, 58′ to engage multiple grooves 66 in the panel 56. Since the bolts/appendages may engage any of the grooves 66, the height of the modesty panel 56 may be adjusted when it is installed or at a later date to cause the height of the modesty panel 56 to vary such that the top edge 68 of the modesty panel 56 may extend below the desk surface, be approximately flush with the desk surface, or extend a desired height above the desk surface. Allowing the modesty panel height to vary allows different teachers with different teaching styles to specify whether the top of the desk should be viewable from the presentation area or not.

In the description set forth above, the L-shaped support bracket 58 may be relatively short, e.g. on the order of one to two inches, to provide intermittent support to the modesty panel along its length. In another embodiment, the L-shaped may be formed to be elongated, for example to attach to the modesty panel along its entire length. This allows any gap that may exist between the modesty panel and the edge of the desk to be filled so that pencils and other sundry elements will not fall through the gap on the far edge of the desk. The invention is not limited in this regard, however, as many different embodiments may be envisioned.

The modesty panel may have different numbers of grooves and different embossments on the surface opposite the grooves. In one embodiment, the modesty panel has a series of grooves intermediate non-grooved end portions. FIG. 19 illustrates an embodiment of the modesty panel having two edge regions of differing lengths that are provided without grooves. The non-grooved end regions are designed to allow the portion of the modesty panel 56 that extends above the surface of the desk to not have exposed grooves. This may be advantageous where the grooves are likely to collect debris if exposed above the surface of the desk.

In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 19, the edge regions of the modesty panel form a first flat area 118 having a first height and a second flat area 120 having a second, longer height. These heights are configured to allow flat regions of differing amounts to be exposed above the surface of the desk depending on the manner in which the modesty panel 56 is oriented relative to the desk surface. For example, in position A the modesty panel 56 is oriented with the short flat area 118 toward the top and the L-shaped support bracket 58 engaged in the top grooves to cause the top surface 68 of the modesty panel 56 to be somewhat below the top surface of the table top. As the L-shaped support bracket 58 is moved downward, as shown in positions B and C, into successive combinations of grooves, the top edge of the modesty panel becomes approximately flush with the top surface of the table top (position B) and then rises such that a portion of the short flat area 118 of the modesty panel begins to be exposed above the top surface of the table top (position C).

Once the L-shaped support bracket 58 has been lowered a sufficient distance, additional lowering of the L-shaped support bracket 58 will start to cause the grooves 66 to appear above the top of the table surface. To provide a higher flat portion of exposed modesty panel 56, the modesty panel may be flipped vertically to cause the relatively longer flat portion 120 to be on top, for example as shown in position D. As the L-shaped support bracket 58 is moved downward, additional area of the large flat region 120 will be exposed as shown in positions E and F.

It should be understood that various changes and modifications of the embodiments shown in the drawings and described in the specification may be made within the spirit and scope of the present invention. Accordingly, it is intended that all matter contained in the above description and shown in the accompanying drawings be interpreted in an illustrative and not in a limiting sense. The invention is limited only as defined in the following claims and the equivalents thereto.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7942485May 15, 2008May 17, 2011Kathi CastelluccioDeployable workstation
US20110036274 *Jun 11, 2010Feb 17, 2011Michael PoostTable and Room Configuration
Classifications
U.S. Classification108/50.01
International ClassificationA47B37/00
Cooperative ClassificationA47B2200/12, F16B12/125, A47B96/205
European ClassificationA47B96/20C, F16B12/12M
Legal Events
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