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Publication numberUS20080224580 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/941,220
Publication dateSep 18, 2008
Filing dateNov 16, 2007
Priority dateMar 16, 2007
Publication number11941220, 941220, US 2008/0224580 A1, US 2008/224580 A1, US 20080224580 A1, US 20080224580A1, US 2008224580 A1, US 2008224580A1, US-A1-20080224580, US-A1-2008224580, US2008/0224580A1, US2008/224580A1, US20080224580 A1, US20080224580A1, US2008224580 A1, US2008224580A1
InventorsKenneth Gibbs, David Field, Michael Wiersema
Original AssigneeThe Brill Company
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Modular furniture
US 20080224580 A1
Abstract
A module of furniture is provided for use in a modular furniture system or as a free standing piece of furniture, comprising, a frame construction with two end assemblies each having a base and a front and rear upright. A flange and upper support beam connect the upper ends of the uprights and support a shelf. A mid-support beam connects the rear uprights and provides an accessory attachment lip as well as a wire management trough. A screen is disposed between the rear uprights for additional privacy. Various accessories including speaker shelves, a monitor mount, and a book shelf are included as a kit with the module for added desktop organization. Each accessory has a clasp, which may be integrally formed, for attaching to one of the support beams.
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Claims(21)
1. A furniture module, comprising, a frame assembly including a first and second side assembly interconnected by a rear assembly in a predetermined configuration, said rear assembly including an upper cross member and a spaced apart intermediate cross member, at least said intermediate cross member including a channel adapted to receive one or more wires depending from an appliance depending from said intermediate cross member.
2. The module as defined in claim 1, further comprising at least one shelf member disposed on an upper end of said first and second side assembly and supported by said upper cross member.
3. The module as defined in claim 1, further comprising at least a second shelf disposed below said at least one shelf member and between said first and second side assembly.
4. The module as defined in claim 1, wherein said intermediate cross member comprises a central web, an flange extending from an upper edge of said central web at an angle there to, and said channel defining a lower edge of said central web.
5. The module as defined in claim 1, wherein said rear assembly further includes a privacy panel disposed intermediate said first and second side assemblies.
6. The module as defined in claim 1, further comprising at least one mounting bracket member suspended from one of said cross members.
7. The module as defined in claim 1, for providing the function of supporting at least one of a computer display, a television display, a monitor display, a video player display, a digital video disk display, an entertainment system screen, a gaming display, a static display from one of said cross members.
8. The module as defined in claim 6, wherein said intermediate cross member comprises a central web, a flange extending from an upper edge of said central web substantially at a an angle there to and a channel member defined along a lower edge of said central web.
9. The module as defined in claim 8, wherein said rear assembly further includes a light transmitting panel disposed intermediate said end assemblies.
10. A piece of modular furniture providing one of multiple functions selected by an end user, including one of an organizer for a desk or dresser, a support for lofting one end of a bed frame, a free-standing unit, and a support for at least one appliance, comprising a frame assembly including a first and a second end assembly, each having an upper end and a lower end, said first and second end assemblies interconnected at said upper ends by a top assembly and by a rear assembly intermediate said upper and lower ends, said rear assembly including at least one cross bar member receiving at least one bracket for mounting an appliance; and a privacy panel intermediate said first and second end assemblies.
11. The piece of modular furniture as defined in claim 10, wherein said at least one cross bar member comprises a central web having a channel member for receiving at least one wire extending from the appliance dependent on said at least one cross bar member.
12. The piece of modular furniture as defined in claim 10 and mounted on an upper surface of one of a desk and dresser for use as one of an organizer, a book shelf, an entertainment center, and a display case.
13. The piece of modular furniture as defined in claim 10 free standing on a floor for use as one of an organizer, a book shelf, an entertainment center, and a display case.
14. The piece of modular furniture as defined in claim 10 for use in lofting one end of a bed frame.
15. The piece of modular furniture as defined in claim 10 for hanging at least one bracket from said at least one cross bar member.
16. A multifunctional furniture module comprising, first and second end members; a top member interconnected to an upper end of each of said first and second end members; at least one cross member interconnecting said first and second end members and keeping said end members generally parallel to one another in spaced apart relationship, said at least one cross member including at least one channel member for managing wires extending from apparatus mounted to or disposed proximate said at least one cross member; and a screen disposed intermediate said first and second end members and below said at least one cross member.
17. The multifunctional furniture module as defined in claim 16 for resting on one of a floor, a desk, and a dresser.
18. The multifunctional furniture module as defined in claim 16 for lofting one end of a bed frame above a predetermined reference surface.
19. The multifunctional furniture module as defined in claim 16, further comprising at least one bracket for hanging from said at least one cross bar member.
20. A multifunctional support for a viewable display including a pair of vertically disposed end members substantially parallel to one another in spaced apart relationship; an upper end of said pair of vertically disposed end members interconnected by an upper shelf member; an intermediate portion of said pair of vertically disposed end members interconnected by a cross bar member having a wire management path thereon and adapted to have the viewable display interconnected thereto, wherein the multifunctional support serves as one of a desktop organizer, a free standing framework, a support frame for a bed, and a frame for resting on a separate piece of furniture.
21. A modular item of furniture providing one of multiple selective functions including a support for use in lofting a bed frame, an organizer for a desktop or dresser, a free-standing bookshelf, and an entertainment center supporting a display, comprising a frame having first and second sides; a rear assembly interconnecting said first and second sides, said rear assembly including at least one structural cross member interconnecting said first and second sides and providing a means for hanging at least one bracket thereon including the display, said structural cross member further including at least one channel for managing and concealing one or more wires attached to the display and other objects supported by said at least one bracket; and a shelf at an upper end of the modular item of furniture.
Description
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is related to, and claims priority from, U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/895,170 filed Mar. 20, 2007, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention generally relates to the field of furniture, more specifically to modular furniture, and particularly to a unique multifunctional module that can serve as a desktop organizer, a support for lofting bed frames, adapted to become an entertainment or electronic center, a message center, or function as a bookcase.

2. Description of the Related Art

Modular furniture systems are becoming more and more common place in university student housing. Each room is fitted with identical furniture systems that the students can arrange in a number of configurations. The versatility permits the students to adapt their quarters to their own style. Most dormitory modular furniture systems are constructed with a combination of solid wood and wood paneling to provide durability and strength, particularly in situations where beds are lofted to provide workspace for student desks below. A problem with conventional modular furniture systems is directly associated with the solid wood construction. Each of the components can be quite massive and opaque, blocking ambient light. Moreover, present day modular furniture systems fail to easily adapt to student special needs, such as providing desktop organization, acting as a media center, or functioning as a bookcase.

A typical university dormitory desk might be expected to accommodate many types of electronic equipment now an integral part of a students tools. These tools may include desktop computers, a separate monitor, a keyboard, speakers, a personal digital assistant (PDA), a digital music player, a digital voice recorder, a cell phone, a digital camera, and a power outlet strip. Many of these items also have dedicated cradles which occupy additional space. The combination of personal electronics, cradles, and associated power and peripheral cables can significantly reduce the efficiency of any workspace if not organized properly. There could be twenty or more wires and cables cluttering up any giving desktop surface. Historical and contemporary modular furniture systems are not capable of adapting to present demand by students.

As previously explained, many modular dormitory furniture systems are constructed with solid and laminated wood to provide durability and strength to handle the different demands placed on them by students. Bookcases or desk hutches on many such systems pose a particular dilemma for furniture manufactures. The bookcase is often used to support the weight of a raised or lofted bed. It should be recognized that solid enclosures, like those typically used for load bearing bookcases, block light and lines of sight. Such obstructions reduce light transmission which can make a room appear to be considerably smaller.

It is a primary object of this invention to provide a modular furniture system that overcomes all of these disadvantages.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, it is an object of this invention to provide an open architecture modular furniture system that easily permits ambient light into the living space while simultaneously being rugged and strong enough to act as a load bearing member for other objects.

It is another object of this invention to provide a robust modular furniture system having an open architecture that is rugged and strong to provide a stable support for lofted beds yet versatile enough to act as a stand alone furniture module.

It is another object of this invention to provide furniture module that can act as a traditional bookcase, a media center, a message center, or a desktop organizer while simultaneously providing the load-bearing ruggedness and stability so that it may be easily integrated into a modular furniture system.

In accordance with the objects outlined briefly above, one form of the invention includes a furniture module that can stand alone on the floor or rest on top of a desk or dresser, and may be comprised of a frame assembly having opposing and spaced apart end assemblies interconnected by at least one structural member and supporting at least one shelf.

In accordance with another form, the invention comprises a furniture module having a frame assembly including opposing and spaced apart end assemblies interconnected by at least one structural member, an intermediate channel member, a translucent privacy panel disposed intermediate the opposing end assemblies, and at least one shelf.

According to another form, the invention includes a furniture module comprising an open frame assembly having opposing and spaced-apart end assemblies interconnected together by a first and a second structural channel, at least one shelf assembly mounted to the spaced-apart end members, and at least one hanger member dependent from one of the structural channels for supporting an object.

According to yet another form of the invention, a module comprises an open frame assembly having opposing spaced apart upright members supporting at least one shelf at a predetermined position thereon, and a structural channel member interconnecting each of the spaced apart upright members and extending generally horizontally there between and adapted to suspend a plurality of hanger members therefrom specifically suited for a particular purpose. In this form, the structural channel member further includes a generally U-shaped portion extending along its length suited for receiving and retaining one or more wires extending from one or more items supported by a hanger member.

According to a still another form of the invention, a furniture module is provided have a rigid open frame assembly formed from tubular steel. The open frame assembly further comprises two spaced apart and opposing end frames also formed from a plurality of interconnected tubular members. A first structural member disposed proximate a rear edge of each end frame and interconnecting the end frames so that they can remain upright and at a fixed orientation relative to one another. A second structural member disposed proximate a rear edge of each end frame, yet spaced from the first structural member, to interconnect each of the end frames and provide structural stability to the frame assembly. In a preferred embodiment, the invention further includes at least one shelf member disposed at a predetermined location and supported by the end frames to provide a substantially conventional shelf assembly.

In one embodiment of the invention, the module may be in the form of a bookcase comprising a frame assembly having a symmetric left and right side frame. Each side frame has a front and rear upright member and a base member interconnecting the lower ends of each upright member. The upper ends of the front and rear upright members may be interconnected by a flange. An upper cross member may extend horizontally between the upper ends of the rear upright members. An intermediate cross member, spaced a predetermined distance from the upper cross member, may extend between the rear uprights of each end frame. The intermediate cross member may have a vertically disposed front surface, an upper lip extending rearward generally perpendicularly from an upper end of the front surface, and a trough extending rearward from a lower end of the front surface. The trough further includes cutout portions that facilitate the management of wires and other items supported on the bookcase. Flanges depending from the underside of the trough and slots formed in the rear upright members accommodate and support a privacy screen disposed between the rear upright members of each end frame. The front uprights in each end frame may be canted at a predetermined angle toward the respective rear leg. An upper shelf is fixedly attached to the upper cross member and the flange atop each end frame. The front and rear uprights of each end frame also include bendable tangs for providing an optional mounting point for an additional shelf.

Fundamental to the furniture module is that each piece should have a dimension equal to a factor of a complimentary piece so that any one or more pieces can be matched with the dimensions of a complimentary piece of modular furniture. For example and not by way of limitation, a bookcase, a dresser, and a desk may all share the same height and width so that the bookcase can rest on top of either the dresser or the desk. Additionally, the bookcase may be half the height of a free standing closet. Alternatively the width of the bookcase, the desk, and the dresser each may have a width equal to the distance between the legs of the bed so the bed can rest atop of any one of the pieces of furniture.

In another embodiment of the invention, the module is provided with a kit of attachment accessories. Each accessory includes a hanger arm or clasp adapted to hang from the intermediate member of the module. One such accessory may include a universal mount for suspending a display such as a flat-panel computer or television display. Another possible accessory includes one or more speaker shelves of different sizes and widths. Additional hanging supports include book shelves with side supports, clothes hooks, and the like. It should be apparent to the reader that many other possible accessories could be created.

Many variations of light fixtures may be ideally suited for attachment to the module for providing task or mood lighting. Examples of such lighting fixture include magnetic or clip bases, and could include flexible “goose neck” supports for directing the light to the proper spot. Alternatively, strip lights or LED lighting may be attached to the underside of any one or more of the shelves or structural members to provide general or mood lighting. Similarly, attachments for cradles or other storage units for personal electronics would be desirable given the proliferation cell phones, digital cameras, personal digital assistants, and digital music players.

The above-listed elements are combined to achieve the stated objectives of this invention. The metal frame construction of the module furthers these objectives in a number of ways. An important aspect of modular furniture systems is that each element is strong enough to support the weight of other elements of the system. In a modular furniture system, the strength requirement is enhanced due to the need to be able to support the weight of stacked furniture such as lofted beds. Transitioning previous designs from a wood construction to metal frame design enables a greater variety of possible designs due to the higher weight capacity of metal, in particular tubular steel. In particular, the strength of a metal frame design allows for the uprights to be relatively small and correspondingly non-obstructing. The non-obstructing nature of the metal frame design allows for significant light penetration through the bookcase. This open design significantly improves the aesthetics of the room thereby fulfilling one object of this invention.

Metal is becoming an increasingly popular building material for home furnishings. Using a metal frame construction modernizes the appearance of the bookcase thereby fulfilling an additional object of the invention. A metal frame construction, and in particular one made from steel, is highly durable and long lasting thereby fulfilling another object of the invention. Finishing the steel frame with a powder coating process further improves the durability and aesthetic aspects of the module.

While wires can be accommodated with access holes in traditional wood furniture, a more proactive desktop organization system is provided by the present invention. The combination of the middle cross bar and the clasping elements allow for numerous types of accessories to be suspended on the module. It should be recognized that wires are not the only problem; wires are but one form of desktop clutter that can interfere with the work surface or appearance of an area. The electronics attached to the wires are equally problematic in that they consume desktop space. Suspending both wires and electronics above a work area fulfills an object of the invention by freeing the work surface of clutter. Providing a wire management integral with the frame fulfils an additional object of the invention by facilitating the organization of cables and wires.

These and other features, advantages, and objects of the present invention will be further understood and appreciated by those skilled in the art by reference to the following detailed description and corresponding drawing figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

FIG. 1 is an oblique view of a module embodying one form of the invention;

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the invention shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an oblique view illustrating one application of the invention in a modular furniture system:

FIG. 4 is an exploded view of another embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary view of a portion of the invention shown above;

FIG. 6 is an oblique view of one embodiment of a bracket used in association with the invention;

FIG. 7 is an oblique view of another embodiment of a bracket contemplated to be used in association with the invention; and

FIG. 8 is an oblique view yet another embodiment of an accessory contemplated to be used in association with the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DIFFERENT EMBODIMENTS

For purposes of the following description, the terms “upper,” “lower,” “right,” “left,” “rear,” “front,” “vertical,” “horizontal.” “inclined.” and derivatives thereof shall relate to the invention as oriented in FIG. 1. However, it is to be understood that the invention may assume various alternative orientations and component spacing, except where expressly specified to the contrary. It is also to be understood that the specific devices and processes illustrated in the attached drawings and described in the following specification are simply exemplary embodiments of the inventive concepts defined in the appended claims. Hence, specific dimensions and other physical characteristics relating to the embodiments disclosed herein are not to be considered as limiting, unless the claims expressly state otherwise.

Referring to the drawing FIGS. 1-2, one embodiment of a module 20 is illustrated particularly adapted for use in a modular furniture system. Although the invention shown in FIGS. 1-2 is intended to be used in a modular furniture system, the rudimentary form of the invention may be used as a stand alone item of furniture as will become readily apparent below. But by way of example, and not by way of limitation, the figures depict the module 20 in the form of a bookcase or desk-top organizer disposed on top of a desk, workstation, or study carol generally identified by reference numeral 22.

The invention described herein is generally a module of furniture comprising a frame assembly including a first and second side assembly interconnected by a rear assembly in a predetermined configuration. The rear assembly includes an upper cross member and a spaced apart intermediate cross member. At least the intermediate cross member includes a channel adapted to receive one or more wires depending from an appliance depending from the intermediate cross member. In another form the invention comprises a piece of modular furniture providing one of a multitude of functions selected by an end user, including one of an organizer for a desk or dresser, a support for lofting one end of a bed frame, and a free-standing unit, all of which can be adapted to support at least one appliance. The invention comprises a frame assembly including a first and a second end assembly, each having an upper end and a lower end. The first and second end assemblies are interconnected at the upper ends by a top assembly and by a rear assembly intermediate the upper and lower ends. The rear assembly includes at least one cross bar member adapted to receive at least one bracket for mounting the appliance. Also included is a privacy panel disposed intermediate the first and second end assemblies.

In yet another form, the invention comprises a multifunctional furniture module having a first and second end member. A top member is interconnected to an upper end of each of the first and second end members. At least one cross member is provided interconnecting the first and second end members and keeping them generally parallel to one another in spaced apart relationship. At least one cross member includes at least one channel member for managing wires extending from one or more appliances resting on or from the module. Disposed intermediate the first and second end members and below the cross member is a screen for permitting ambient light to pass there through to an opposite side of the screen.

In yet another form, a modular item of furniture provides one of multiple selective functions including a support for use in lofting one end of a bed frame, an organizer for a desktop or dresser, and a free-standing bookshelf, each of which are adapted to provide support for an appliance such as a display. The modular item of furniture comprises a frame having first and second sides and a rear assembly interconnecting the first and second sides. The rear assembly includes at least one structural cross member interconnecting the first and second sides and provides a means for hanging at least one bracket thereon including the display. The structural cross member further includes at least one channel for receiving and managing one or more wires attached to the display or other object supported by the bracket. It is also anticipated that a shelf may be supplied at an upper end of the modular item of furniture.

The above provide quite generalized descriptions of the invention. To aid the reader in understanding the invention, a more specific embodiment of the module 20 is shown in FIGS. 1-2 and includes a frame assembly 24 comprised of two opposing end assemblies 26, 28 and a rear assembly 30. The opposing end assemblies 26, 28 can be substantially mirror-images of one another and provide the primary load bearing members for the bookcase. Although the end assemblies are preferred to be arranged as mirror images of one another, it is contemplated that reverse or dissimilar images may be adopted depending upon the particular design. In the preferred embodiment, the opposing end assemblies 26, 28 are interconnected together and fixed at a predetermined spaced apart position relative to one another by the rear assembly 30 and by at least one shelf member 32 mounted to the top or upper end of the opposing end assemblies 26, 28, and a portion of the rear assembly 30.

Each end assembly 26, 28 is generally formed from a plurality of pieces interconnected to one another to form a closed polygon-shaped frame 34. Each closed-polygon frame 34 includes a base member 36. Extending from opposite ends of the base member 36 is a front upright member 38 and a rear upright member 40. The upper ends of each upright member 36, 38 are preferably interconnected to one another by a flange or top plate member 42. Each of the members 36, 38, and 40 forming each closed polygon-shaped frame 34 may be made from a wide range of materials, including, but not limited to solid wood, laminated wood, plywood sheeting, particle board and other wood related products, aluminum and other metal alloys, and polymeric materials such as polyvinyl chloride and related products offering a rigid framework. In a preferred embodiment, each of the members 36, 38 and 40 are made from rectangular steel tubing welded together. Also in the preferred embodiment, the top plate member 42 is also a form of steel and welded to the upper ends of the upright members 38, 40. The upright members 38, 40 and base member 36 may be welded together although other fastening techniques may be adapted depending upon the preference of the builder. Although the preferred embodiment of the invention would have a frame assembly manufactured from rectangular tubular steel, tubular products having other cross-sectional profiles may also be used, including, but not limited to ovals, circles, square, triangle, pentagonal, and the like.

The shape of each closed polygon-shaped frame 34 may vary from one of a square, a rectangle, a right triangle, or a four-sided polygon, depending upon the desires of the builder. In one embodiment, each closed polygon-shaped frame 34 is in the form of a four-sided polygon where each front upright member 38 is canted towards the rear upright member 38 at a predetermined angle α relative to the base member 36. Although the angle may vary, the angle α between the base member 36 and the front upright member 38 may range from 90 degrees to 45 degrees, preferably from less than 90 degrees to more than 70 degrees, and most preferably from less than 90 degrees to more than 80 degrees. In the most preferred embodiment of the invention at the time of this writing, the angle α between the base member 36 and the front upright member 38 is approximately 82 degrees.

In accordance with one form of the invention, the metal frame may be finished in a number of ways, ranging from painting to encapsulation depending upon the design intent of the builder. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, power coating of the metal provides a durable and pleasing finish. However, it is contemplated that other finishes may also be adopted such as PVC or other polymeric encapsulation.

As mentioned briefly above, the upper ends of the front and rear upright members 38, 40 of each end assembly 26, 28 are interconnected together by a flange or top plate member 42. The top plate 42 may also be welded to each of the front and rear upright members 38, 40 to provide a rigid connection. However, as mentioned above, other joining techniques may be adopted such as using fasteners, clamps and adhesives.

The rear assembly 30 comprises an upper cross member 44 adapted and placed to interconnected the upper ends of each rear upright member 40 in each end assembly 28. The upper cross member 44 may also be formed from the same type of material as used for each of the members of the end assembly 28. The purpose of this structure is to provide the upper structural support member and transferring loads upon the upper cross member 44 to each of the end assemblies 26, 28. The upper cross member 44 may also provide support for the shelf member 32 coupled to the upper end of each of the end assemblies 26, 28. As depicted in the figures, the upper shelf member 32 may be composed of wood. However other strong and rigid materials such as sheet metal, particle board, chip board, and polymeric materials such as vinyl may also be acceptable.

A second or intermediate cross member 46 may also be used, spaced below the upper cross bar member 44, and positioned to interconnect each of the rear upright members 40 at a predetermined position between the lower end and the upper end of each upright. In one embodiment of the invention, the second or intermediate cross member 46 is a structural member and may be identical in characteristics to the upper cross member 44. Alternatively and in a preferred embodiment of the invention, structural cross member 46 may be made from lighter weight material, but sufficiently strong to provide structural stability to each of the end assemblies 26, 28, and to support loads described in greater detail below. In particular, the intermediate or second cross member 46 may be formed from sheet metal into a generally C- or J-shaped channel wherein a central web portion 48 is oriented vertically and terminates at its upper end in a generally horizontally-disposed upper flange 50 oriented towards the rear of the module 20. The lower end of the web portion 48 preferably terminates in a trough or channel 52 which also extends toward the rear of the module 20. Periodically extending downwardly from the bottom of the trough or channel 52 may be a plurality of relatively small tabs or flanges 54, the purpose of which will become more readily apparent below. The object of the intermediate or second cross member 46 is to provide a mechanism for supporting myriad objects on hanger members described below. The trough or channel 52 formed on the lower back portion thereof is also intended to provide a wire or cable management and concealment system for electrical devices such as radios, clocks, speakers and displays such as monitors, televisions and the like.

The foregoing provides a description of the most rudimentary form of the invention. This frame work of the module 20 is the foundation upon which a host of variations may be constructed as will be described more fully below. One of those alternative features is found in the rear assembly 30 shown in FIGS. 1 and 2.

Comprising a portion of the rear assembly 30 in another form of the invention may be a privacy panel 56. The privacy panel 56 represents a third cross member that may be disposed below the structural cross member 46 and between the rear upright members 40 of each end assembly 26, 28. Alternatively the privacy panel 56 may extend the entire height of the module, extending from the upper cross member 44 all the way to the bottom of each rear upright member 40. The privacy panel may be substantially rectangular in form and have a longitudinal dimension to fit between the rear uprights 40 of each end assembly 26, 28. Other forms may be adopted to provide ornamental and design changes to the invention without substantially departing from the object of the privacy panel. To help keep the rectangular form of the privacy panel 56 in position just described, each rear upright member 40 may include one or more slots 58 formed therein adapted to receive tabs 60 extending from opposing ends of the privacy panel 56. To keep the privacy panel 56 from flexing between each end assembly 26, 28, the upper edge 62 of the privacy panel may be captured between alternating ones of the plurality of tabs or flanges 54 extending from the lower edge of the intermediate or second cross bar member 46. Although the invention has been described as tabs extending from the panel and received within the framework of the module 20, it is contemplated that the structures may be reversed where tabs or brackets may extend from the framework of the module 20 and be captured within recesses formed in the privacy panel 56.

Although the privacy panel 56 is not critical to the primary function of the module 20, as the name implies, the panel 56 does provide some privacy to persons on opposite sides of the module 20. However, one of the objects of the invention is not to totally obstruct the passage of ambient light. Another object of the privacy panel is to provide a surface where notes, messages, and reminders may be displayed. To help achieve this goal, it is contemplated that the privacy panel 56 may be formed from an array of materials. For example, in a preferred form of the invention, the privacy panel 56 may be translucent and act as a general light radiator and lighten the space on a side of the privacy panel 56 opposite a light source. It is anticipated that the privacy panel may be formed from a sheet of polymeric material such as acrylic or other desired material. Acrylic is preferred because the colors of the panels can be easily changed to fit any décor. Secondly, the acrylic material can act as a dry erase board where a student may leave messages or notes. In addition, the surface of the privacy panel 56 can also be treated to provide different affects. For example, the privacy panel 56 may be frosted, etched, carved, blasted, and even cut to achieve a wide range of results. According to another form of the invention, the privacy panel may also be formed from sheet metal perforated with a predetermined size and density of holes to filter light. Other designs or forms of perforations may be constructed in the privacy panel depending upon the desires of the manufacturer. With a metallic privacy panel, magnets, tape or other types of fasteners may be used to post notes and reminders. With special coatings, the metallic form of the privacy panel 56 can also work as a dry erase board. In yet another form of the invention, the privacy panel may also be manufactured from a tack-board material, also constructed in a manner to filter ambient light, yet provide a substrate to offer some form of privacy while simultaneously providing a surface for posting notes and the like.

The above embodiment of the invention was described above with specific reference to working in association with a desk, work station, or the like. Indeed the above invention can serve multiple functions in association with, and independent of, other pieces of furniture. In particular it is contemplated that the invention 20 may also provide structural support for one end of a bed arranged in a lofted-type arrangement by another module such as 20 or by other items of furniture such as dresser, high-boys, or bed end frames. An example of one such arrangement is depicted in FIG. 3 and described in greater detail below. The module 20 may also be used as a stand alone item unsupported by any other item of furniture.

According to another embodiment of the invention, the module may provide a plurality of shelves. In particular, as depicted in FIGS. 3-4, another embodiment of a module 70 is shown having one or more shelves 72, 74 thereon. Similar to the embodiment described above, module 70 includes a frame assembly 76 comprised of two opposing end assemblies 78, 80 and a rear assembly 82. The opposing end assemblies 78, 80 and the rear assembly are identical to that described above.

As in the previous embodiment, the end assemblies 78, 80 are substantially mirror-images of one another and provide the primary load bearing members for the module. The opposing end assemblies 78, 80 are interconnected together and fixed at a predetermined position relative to one another by the rear assembly 82. As in the previous embodiment, at least one shelf member 72 is mounted to the top of the opposing end assemblies 78, 80 and a portion of the rear assembly 30.

Each end assembly 78, 80 is formed generally from a plurality of pieces interconnected to one another to form a closed polygon-shaped frame 84. Each closed-polygon frame 84 comprises a base member 86. Extending from opposite ends of the base member 86 is a front upright member 88 and a rear upright member 90. The upper ends of each upright member 88, 90 are preferably interconnected to one another by a flange or top plate member 92. Each of the members 86, 88, and 90 forming each closed polygon frame 84 may be made from a wide range of materials, including, but not limited to solid wood, laminated wood sheeting, particle board and other wood related products, aluminum and other metal alloys, and polymeric materials such as polyvinyl chloride and related products offering a rigid framework. In a preferred embodiment, each of the members 86, 88 and 90 are made from rectangular steel tubing welded together. Also in the preferred embodiment, the top plate member 92 is also a form of steel and welded to the upper ends of the upright members 88, 90. The upright members 88, 90 and base member 86 may be welded together although other fastening techniques may be adapted depending upon the preference of the builder. Although the preferred embodiment of the invention would have a frame assembly manufactured from rectangular tubular steel, tubular products having other cross-sectional profiles may also be used, including, but not limited to ovals, circles, square, triangle, pentagonal, and the like.

The shape of each closed polygon frame 84 may vary from one of a square, a rectangle, a right triangle, or a four-sided polygon, depending upon the desires of the builder. In one embodiment, each closed polygon frame 84 is in the form of a four-sided polygon where each front upright member 88 is canted towards the rear upright member 88 at a predetermined angle relative to the base member 86. Although the angle may vary, the angle between the base member 86 and the front upright member 88 may range from 90 degrees to 45 degrees, preferably from less than 90 degrees to more than 70 degrees, and most preferably from less than 90 degrees to more than 80 degrees. In the most preferred embodiment of the invention at the time of this writing, the angle between the base member 86 and the front upright member 88 is approximately 82 degrees. The frame members 30 can be powder coated to achieve a hard finish durable finish.

As mentioned briefly above, the upper ends of the front and rear upright members 88, 90 of each end assembly 86, 88 are interconnected together by a flange or top plate member 92. The top plate 92 may also be welded to each of the front and rear upright members 88, 90 to provide a rigid connection. However, as mentioned above, other joining techniques may be adopted such as using fasteners, clamps and adhesives.

The rear assembly 82 comprises an upper cross member 94 adapted and placed to interconnect the upper ends of each rear upright member 90 in each end assembly 78, 80. The upper cross member 94 may also be formed from the same type of material as used for each of the members of the end assembly 78, 80. Alternatively, cross member 94 may be in the form of C-, J- or G-shaped cross section similar to the intermediate member described above. The purpose of this structure 94 is to provide the upper structural support member for the two end assemblies 86, 88 and sharing in transferring loads upon the upper cross member 94 to each of the end assemblies 78, 80. The upper cross member 94 also provides support for the shelf member 72 disposed atop each of the end assemblies 78, 80. As depicted in the figures, the upper shelf member 72 may be composed of wood. However, other strong and rigid materials such as sheet metal, particle board, chip board, and polymeric materials such as vinyl may also be acceptable.

A second or intermediate cross member 96 may also be used, spaced below the upper cross member 94, and positioned to structurally interconnect each of the rear upright members 90 at a predetermined position between the lower end and the upper end of each upright. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the second or intermediate cross member 96 may be identical or of slightly less structural rigidity as the upper cross member 94, but sufficiently strong to provide structural stability to each of the end assemblies 78, 80, and to support loads described in greater detail below. In one embodiment, the intermediate or second cross member 96 may be formed from sheet metal into a generally C-, J- or G-shaped channel wherein a central web portion 98 is oriented vertically and terminates at its upper end in a generally horizontally-disposed upper flange 100 oriented towards the rear of the module 70. The lower end of the web portion 98 terminates in a trough or channel 102 which extends also toward the rear of the module 70. Periodically extending downwardly from the bottom of the trough or channel 102 may be a plurality of relatively small tabs or flanges 104. The object of the intermediate or second cross member 96 is to provide a mechanism for supporting myriad objects on hanger members described below and from the intermediate cross member 96. The trough or channel 102 formed on the lower back portion thereof is intended to provide a system for managing wires or cables depending from appliances such as radios, lights, televisions and the like supported on the structural member 96 or supported on one of the shelves 72, 74.

Comprising a portion of the rear assembly 82 in another form of the invention may be a privacy panel 106. According to this form of the invention, the privacy panel may be disposed below the secondary or intermediate cross member 96 and between the rear upright members 90 of each end assembly 78, 80. Alternatively the privacy panel may extend the entire height of the module, extending from the upper cross member 94 all the way to the bottom of each rear upright member 90. The privacy panel may be substantially rectangular in form and have a longitudinal dimension to fit between the rear uprights 90 of each end assembly 78, 80. Other forms may be adopted to provide ornamental and design changes to the invention without substantially departing from the object of the privacy panel. To help keep the rectangular form of the privacy panel 106 in position just described, each rear upright member 90 may include one or more slots 108 formed therein adapted to receive tabs 110 extending from opposing ends of the privacy panel 106. To keep the privacy panel 106 from flexing between each end assembly 78, 80, the upper edge 112 of the privacy panel may be captured between alternating ones of the pluralities of tabs and flanges 104 extending from the lower edge of the intermediate or second cross member 96.

Just as in the previous embodiment the privacy panel 56 is not critical to the primary function of the module 70. As the name implies, the panel 106 does provide some privacy to persons on opposite sides of the bookcase 70. However, one of the objects of the invention is not to totally obstruct the passage of ambient light. Another object of the privacy panel is to provide a surface where note and reminders may be displayed. To help achieve this goal, it is contemplated that the privacy panel 106 may be formed from an array of materials. For example, in a preferred form of the invention, the privacy panel 106 may be translucent and act as a general light radiator and lighten the space on a side of the privacy panel 106 opposite a light source. It is anticipated that the privacy panel may be formed from a sheet of polymeric material such as acrylic or other desired material. Acrylic is preferred because the colors of the panels can be easily changed to fit any décor. In addition, the surface of the privacy panel 106 can also be treated to provide different affects. For example, the privacy panel 106 may be frosted, etched, carved, blasted, and even cut to achieve a wide range of results. According to another form of the invention, the privacy panel may also be formed from sheet metal perforated with a predetermined size and density of holes to filter light. Other designs or forms of perforations may be constructed in the privacy panel depending upon the desires of the manufacturer. With a metallic privacy panel, magnets, tape or other types of fasteners may be used to post notes and reminders. In vet another form of the invention, the privacy panel may also be manufactured from a tack-board material, also constructed in a manner to filter ambient light, yet provide a substrate to offer some form of privacy while simultaneously providing a surface for posting notes and the like. Another privacy panel may contain a white-board surface for using non-permanent markers.

As mentioned previously, this embodiment of the invention accommodates a plurality of shelves 72, 74. Additional shelves such as 74 may be disposed between the end assemblies 78, 80 by mounting the ends of the shelves on tabs such as 114 extending at predetermined locations from the front and rear upright members 88, 90. See FIG. 5. In a preferred embodiment, each tab 114 is formed by cutting an arcuate hole in the inner face of each upright member 88, 90, and folding the tab down and toward the medial line of the bookcase. Alternatively, tabs or tangs 114 may be welded to desired locations along each of the upright members 88, 90. The tabs 114 should be sufficiently large enough to provide a rest for the ends of each shelf 74 and may include a central hole though which a fastener may extend to fix the shelf 74 in position.

As described above, the intermediate cross member 46 and 96 of the rear assembly 30 and 82 provide lateral structural support for the end assemblies 32, 34 and 78, 80. However, this is not the only intended function. Each intermediate cross member 46, 96 acts as a primary support member for one or more accessories such as shown in FIGS. 6-8. Referring to FIG. 6, one such accessory comprises a mounting bracket 120 for such objects as a computer speaker and the like. The bracket 120 comprises a first platform 122 extending at substantially a right angle from a vertical member 124, both being of predetermined length and width. The opposite end of the vertical member 124 is attached to a hanger arm 126 extending at a predetermined angle therefrom and designed to rest along the upper edge of the intermediate cross bar members described above. To keep the bracket 120 from sliding and falling off of the intermediate cross bar member, the hanger arm 126 includes a downwardly depending lip or flange 128 adapted to engage the edge of the upper flange or top plate such as 42 or 92. The angle of the lip or flange 128 being an acute angle also prevents the bracket 120 from being lifted directly off of the top plate member 42 or 92. For added security, and rigidly fixing the bracket 120 to the cross bar member, the downwardly depending lip or flange 128 is tapped and threaded to receive a fastener there through, pinning the hanger arm 126 in place on the cross bar member. The hanger arm 126 described above may be used on substantially every accessory bracket used in cooperation with the intermediate cross bar member.

FIG. 7 illustrates one embodiment of a display mounting bracket 130 contemplated to be used in cooperation with the cross bar members 46, 96 described above. The display mounting bracket 130 is adapted to interface with and support flat panel computer monitors, flat panel computer displays, DVD players and other visual display from the cross member such as 46, 96. Although such a bracket 130 may assume any one of a number of configuration specifically adapted to mate with one or more monitors, it is contemplated that a universal bracket may comprise a vertical member 132 depending from the hanger arm 134 identical to that described above with respect to FIG. 7. The vertical member 132 of the display bracket 130 may have one or more slots arranged in a predetermined pattern to receive a like number of fasteners adapted to attach the computer display or other object to the vertical member 132.

It is contemplated that the intermediate shelves such as 74 described above may be removed from the module 70 when the accessory mounting brackets are used, but there still may be a desire to provide a reduced shelf space. Bracket 140 shown in FIG. 8 is intended to satisfy that need. Bracket 140 includes a substantially vertical member 142 having a flange 144 extending therefrom substantially at a right angle to provide a shelf-like support surface. One or more gussets or support straps 146 may interconnect the distal end of the flange 144 with the vertical member 142. Although a strap like configuration is shown in FIG. 16, it is understood that any number of angular supports can be provided ranging from solid metal sides, cables, fabric straps, bars, rods, or tubular members can be used. Just as with the previous two embodiments, the upper end of the vertical member 142 terminates in hanger arm 148 identical to the hanger arm 126 described above.

Each of the accessory brackets 120-140 described above may be formed from sheet metal or steel stamped into a predetermined pattern and bent and welded into the desired configuration. As with the metal frame assembly described for each of the above embodiments, powder coating may provide the finish coating having a range of colors to meet desired aesthetic and durability preferences. Molded or formed polymer covers or coatings could be equally effective to provide the desired finish.

For each of the accessories described above, it is further contemplated that universal hangers arms may be provided to permit the user to hang the brackets and shelves from the back side of each of the cross members, depending upon the use of the module 20, 70 in the modular furniture system. For example, if the modules are used to loft beds, the person may wish to orient the brackets so they are accessible from the area below the lofted bed rather than from the opposite side of the module.

It is further contemplate that the module 20, 70 may be adapted to work with other accessories such as electrical power strips. In one embodiment, it is envisioned that power strips may be attached to the rear of the intermediate cross members described above. It is further envisioned that portals may be provided in the tubular upright members to permit the power strip cords and other wires to be concealed. In short, the tubular passages of the upright members could act as wire races and act in concert with the wire management system provided by the cross members.

It is further envisioned that lighting may be provided on the modules. The cable and wire raceways provided within the tubular members for the uprights and in the intermediate and upper cross members provide ample room for electrical wires connected to lighting. For example, low voltage lighting such as pucks, LED strips, and even goose-necked directed lighting could be provided at fixed locations on the frame assemblies.

In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the operation or integration of the modules 20, 70 depend upon the desires of the user. In one configuration, the module could be positioned on the floor and act as a free-standing bookshelf or media center wherein speakers and flat panel displays may be supported or hung from the structural members 46, 96. The user would also be free to use the additional intermediate shelves, or use one or more of the mounting brackets described above. Alternatively, such as shown in FIG. 3, because the width of the modules 20, 70 are compatible with the dimensions of the other furniture pieces, the modules could be positioned to rest on top of a desk 150 or dresser 152. The module could rest freely upon the surface of the desk or dresser. However, if stability is a concern, bolts or other fasteners could be used to pass through the base members 36, 86 and be received and anchored into the desk or dresser top. Alternatively, straps could be used to interconnect the back edge of each rear member to the back edge of the desk, dresser, or other furniture item used as a base for the bookcase.

In another embodiment, it is envisioned that the modules 20, 70 described above could be stacked upon one or more of the desk 150 and dresser 152 to provide the principle load bearing support for a bed such as identified by reference numeral 156 in FIG. 3. In this case the width of the upper shelf 32, 74 would be received between the legs of the head and footboard of the bed 156, lofting the bed above the floor. The advantage of this configuration is maximum use of the furniture footprint and conserving space elsewhere within the room.

With respect to use of the accessory mounting plates, it is preferred that the user hold one of the accessories at an angle over the intermediate cross bar member 45, 96. The accessory would then be lowered at a slightly tilted orientation so that the hanger arm 126 clears the back edge of the top plate member such as shown by reference numeral 42. Once in position, the remainder of the bracket would be rotated downwardly into position until the hanger arm 126 was sufficiently snug against the top plate member 42. When in the proper position, the vertical member or plate of each bracket would rest flush against the intermediate cross member and the hanger arm would rest parallel to the top plate. Tolerances in the fit of each bracket to the cross bar member are sufficient to so the brackets do not rattle, yet far enough to permit easy sliding to adjust for the proper positioning. Alternatively more universal hanger brackets could be provided so that each of the brackets may be used on either side of the intermediate cross members, depending again in the desires of the user and orientation of the modules.

In the foregoing description, it will be readily appreciated by those skilled in the art that modifications may be made to the invention without departing from the concepts disclosed herein. Such modifications are to be considered as included in the following claims, unless these claims by their language expressly state otherwise.

Classifications
U.S. Classification312/195
International ClassificationA47B17/03
Cooperative ClassificationA47C19/22, A47B47/00, A47B17/033, A47B96/067, A47C19/207
European ClassificationA47C19/20F, A47B17/03B, A47B96/06R, A47B47/00
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Nov 16, 2007ASAssignment
Owner name: BRILL COMPANY, THE, MICHIGAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:GIBBS, KENNETH S.;FIELD, DAVID;WIERSEMA, MICHAEL;REEL/FRAME:020322/0700
Effective date: 20070312
Owner name: THE BRILL COMPANY, MICHIGAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:GIBBS, KENNETH S;FIELD, DAVID;WIERSEMA, MICHAEL;REEL/FRAME:020122/0104