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Publication numberUS3041109 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJun 26, 1962
Filing dateSep 29, 1958
Priority dateSep 29, 1958
Publication numberUS 3041109 A, US 3041109A, US-A-3041109, US3041109 A, US3041109A
InventorsEames Charles, Albinson Don
Original AssigneeMiller Herman Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Web and spreader furniture construction
US 3041109 A
Abstract  available in
Images(3)
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

June 26, 1962 C. EAMES ET AL WEB AND SPREADER FURNITURE CONSTRUCTION 3 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed Sept. 29, 1958 ATTORNEYS & E S R M A T E m W L R A H C DON ALBINSON y, fi w June 26, 1962 c. EAMES ETAL 3,041,109

WEB AND SPREADER FURNITURE CONSTRUCTION Filed Sept. 29, 1958 3 Sheets-Sheet 2 |NVENTORS,-

CHARLES EAMES, DON ALBINSON AT TORN EYS June 26, 1962 c. EAMES ETAL 3,041,109

WEB AND SPREADER FURNITURE CONSTRUCTION Filed Sept. 29, 1958 s Sheets-Sheet s INVENTORS,

CHARLES EAM DON ALBINSO ATTORNEYS United States Patent 3,041,109 WEB AND'SPREADER FURNITURE CONSTRUCTION Charles Earnes and Don Albinson, Venice, Calif, assignors to Herman Miller, Inc., a corporation of Michigan Filed Sept. 29, 1958, Ser. No. 764,059 14 Claims. (Cl. 297-449) This invention relates to furniture and more particularly to a chair and to a footstool of generally similar construction designed for use with the chair.

This invention is particularly designed to provide furniture of dual purpose, that is, for use both indoors and outdoors. Furniture is a substantial investment and the development of furniture useful both indoors and outdoors is particularly desirable to reduce this investment since the same furniture may then serve both purposes. To this end, this furniture has been so designed that it is durable under adverse Weather conditions and yet is of a configuration and styling which will readily blend with the types of furniture normally limited to indoor use. For the purpose of exterior use, this furniture is specifically designed to utilize materials having maximum durability under exterior weather conditions. These conditions include the extremes of heat and dryness and cold and moisture. For the purpose of further adapting this furniture to its dual purpose, it is designed to be readily portable. It incorporates a structure of minimum weight consistent with the requirements of strength and durability imposed upon furniture particularly that designed for exterior use.

One of the important features of this invention is its use of a demountable web. The demountable web permits the fabric portion of the furniture to be changed whenever replacement is required. This is particularly important in the case of furniture for exterior use since no fabric materials either of natural or synthetic origin are yet known which will withstand indefinite exposure to weathering conditions. All fabrics are subject to deterioration under the eifect of intense sunlight, and particularly of ultraviolet light.

.The construction of the furniture relating to the web mounting greatly facilitates web replacement. Because of this construction the replacement webs can be manufactured as a complete unit ready for installation, thus eliminating the slow and costly hand fitting and trimming characteristic of reupholstering conventional furniture. Since few, if any, conventional fasteners are employed, the cost involved in removing the old fasteners and installing new ones is largely or completely eliminated. Since labor is a major factor in reupholstering, this invention materially reduces its cost.

Particularly important in the concept of the readily demountable web is its attachment to the structure without the use of conventional fasteners such as screws or nails as the main means of anchorage. This permits the web to be mounted and demounted without injury to the web such as occurs when nails and screws are used. Further, the web is more durable because its attachment to the supporting frame occurs along all increments of its side margins rather than at concentrated points such as occur when nails, screws or similar conventional fasteners are employed. This invention provides such a mounting means which is neat, concealed and protects the edge of the web structure from injury.

This invention also provides a web of such nature that it is generally rectangular in shape, thus, being particularly economical in its use of material. This also greatly facilitates the mounting and demounting of the Web from the frame structure.

The demountable web feature has other potential advantages. It is possible with this construction to ship the furniture in knocked-down condition, particularly to dealers or show rooms having the simple equipment necessary to spread the side rails sufficiently to permit assembly of the cross members. The demountability of the web permits the web to be removed for cleaning purposes or to change the webs between indoor and outdoor use. It also materially reduces the cost of replacement when redecoration dictates a change of web material to adapt the furniture to the new decor.

Another important facet of this invention, and, by far not the least, is the comfort which the design provides for the user. This design provides a seat, leg and back portion without rigid cross members which can contact the body of a person utilizing the furniture. Such cross pieces frequently cause discomfort to a persons legs, back or head. Such obstructions are eliminated in this furniture allowing the webto contour smoothly without concentrated points of resistance to the users body.

These and other objects and purposes of this invention will be immediately seen by those acquainted with the design and construction of furniture upon reading the following specification and the accompanying drawings.

In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is an oblique view of a chair employing this invention.

FIG. 2 is a fragmentary cross section of the chair frame taken along the plane IIII of FIG. 4.

FIG. 3 is an enlarged fragmentary cross section taken along the plane III-III of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is an oblique view of the frame for a chair employing this invention.

FIG. 5 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view taken along the plane VV of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a sectional view taken along the plane VI-VI of FIG. 4.

FIG. 7 is a side elevation view of the frame for a footstool employing this invention.

FIG. 8 is an oblique view of the top frame portion for the footstool illustrated in FIG. 7.

FIG. 9 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view taken along the plane -IXIX of FIG. 8.

FIG. 10 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view of the joint between the spreader and the frame of the chair frame illustrated in FIG. 4.

FIG. 11 is a cross sectional view similar to FIG. 3, showing the use of pins to positively anchor the edge of the Web in the channel.

In executing the purposes of this invention, there is provided a frame consisting of a pair of side rails held rigidly in spaced relationship by a pair of Spreaders. One of the spreaders is secured to a base to support the entire frame structure. The side rails each have an outwardly opening channel or groove extending their entire length. That portion of the furniture which comes in contact with the users body is formed by a web. A stiff reinforcement piece or strip is incorporated into the side margins of the web and this reinforcement piece together with the edge margins of the web is inserted in each of the outwardly extending grooves. When the Spreaders are installed the rails are spaced further apart, placing the web in tension between the rails with the stiffening strip in their edge margins acting as a lock, securing the web firmly and positively to the side rails.

Referring specifically to the drawings and to FIG. 1, the numeral 1 refers to a chair having a base 2 and a frame 3. Referring now to FIG. 4, the frame 3 has a pair of side rails 4 which, although they need not necessarily be so designed, are preferably of identical construction and of symmetrical cross section. Each of the rails 4 is so shaped that as a single, integral piece it forms the seat supporting section 5, the back supporting section 6, and the head rest portion 7.

The side rails 4 are of generally H-shaped design providing an outer channel 8 and an inner channel 9 (FIG. 3). These need not be of identical size and shape but preferably they are for the purpose of eliminating the necessity of fabricating left and right units where a single unit could be made to serve for both purposes. The top surface 10 of the rail is smooth and its edge margins are rounded as at 11 (FIG. 3). The lower portion of the rail is reinforced with a depending flange 12. The depth of the flange 12 varies throughout the: length of the rail with its greatest depth being in the general area where the seat and back portions of the rail merge. This is the point of maximum stress upon the rail structure. The variation in the depth of the reinforcement flange 12 is not essential since the same flange depth may be utilized throughout the length of the rail, if such is considered desirable.

At both ends of the rails 4, the outer and inner channels 8 and 9 both terminate in sockets 13 and 14, respectively (FIG. 5). The sockets 13 and 14 are generally circular in shape and have the same depth as the channels 8 and 9. A threaded opening 15 extends through the web between the sockets for reception of the coneheaded, countersunk screw 16. It will be recognized that except for the purpose of making the interior and exterior faces of the rails identical, so that the necessity for left and right constructions is eliminated, the inner pocket 14 could be deleted and, therefore, its presence is not essential to the practice of this invention.

The rails 4 are supported and laterally spaced by a.- lower spreader member and an upper spreader member 21. The lower spreader member 20 has a generally U-shaped, shallow body portion 22 so formed that it is concave to a depth such that no contact will occur between it and the hereinafter described web when the chair is in use. At its center, the concave portion 22 has a depending boss 23 for reception of the vertical post 31 of the base 2 (FIGS. 1, 2 and 4).

The ends of the spreader member 20 flare outwardly to form a wide terminal flange 24 of a thickness to be slidably but securely received into the inner channel 14 of each of the side rails (FIG. 10). The fit between this terminal flange and the top and bottom web members 25 and 26 defining the inner channel 9 is such that the rail 4 cannot rock about the flange. To positively secure the rails to the terminal flanges 24, suitable fasteners such as screws 27 are utilized. Preferably these are mounted from beneath where their heads will be hidden and cannot possibly create a rough surface to the detriment of the hereinafter described web.

It will be noted that the flared terminal flanges 24 are contoured laterally to fit the contour of the rails 4 at the point at which they are secured to the rails. As illustrated in FIG. 4, the lower spreader 20 is preferably secured adjacent the point of transition of the seat and back portions 5 and 6 of the frame 4 where the maximum load is applied to the chair structure and situated generally between the loads applied by a person sitting on the edge of the seat and those applied when a person lounges back against the back portion of the chair.

The upper spreader also has a concave central portion 28 similar to the corresponding portion 22 of the lower spreader 20 although its curvature need not be so pronounced (Fl-G. 4). It also is concave sufficiently that contact does not occur between the spreader and the web secured between the rails. The ends of the upper spreader 21 are flared to form terminal flanges 29 similar to the terminal flanges 24 although they are not necessarily quite so wide. The terminal flanges 29 also are received in the inner channels 9 of the rails 4 with the same type of secure fit and are attached by suitable fasteners such as screws.

The base 2 may be of any construction suitable for supporting the previously described frame. As illustrated, it consists of a four legged standard 30 having a central vertical post 31 the upper end of which is received into the boss 23 (FIG. 4). The particular design and construction of the base 2 is not important and forms no part of this invention. It is merely illustrated to show one means by which the frame 3 can be adequately supported.

The body contacting portion of the chair is formed by a web 4t) of any suitable construction (FIGS. 1, 3 and 5). It must be of a flexible material and preferably of one having a limited amount of resilience. It must be of a material having relatively high tensile strength to withstand the forces imposed upon it during the chairs use.

The web 40 has a main body portion 41 extending from the front edge of the seat portion as a continuous member to the top end of the back portion. Along its side margins a pocket 42 is formed within which is enclosed a stiffener element "43 (FIG. 3). The stifiener element is preferably of a bendable or semiaflexible material which, however, is highly resistant to crushing. It is generally rectangular in cross section with its greater dimension extending later-ally of the chair as the web is installed. It is of a material of such resistance to crushing that it will not buckle across its greater cross sectional dimension. As an example of a suitable material for the stiffener 43, a pressed fiber board formed under heat and pressure may be used. Also, a tempered pressed board of cellulosic or ligneous origin may be used. It is entirely possible to use a metallic or plastic element such as a strip of aluminum or styrene. The stiffener 43 terminates just short of the ends of the web 40, permitting the ends of the web to be coiled into the front and back terminal rolls 44 and 45 (FIG. 1). These rolls form a generally tubular structure at both ends of the web (FIG. 5). The rolls or tubes formed in the ends of the web reinforce the ends of the Web and prevent the ends of the web from forming a line of higher resistance to contouring when the chair is occupied as so often occurs in furniture of this type.

The side margins of the web are seated over the top face 10 of the rails 4 and are wrapped about the outer top edge of the rails as illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 5. The edge margins of the web having the stiffener 43 are seated in the outer channel 8 of the rails 4. As so mounted, that portion of the web having the stiffener 43 is wrapped about the edge of the rail and therefore is directed in the opposite direction to the main body portion 41 of the web. As so mounted, tension applied to the web 40, such as occurs when a person .is seated in the chair, cannot dislodge the edges of the web from the outer channels 8 even though no fasteners are used to secure these edges to the rails 4. The forces created about the edge of the web when the main body portion 41 is placed in tension cannot pull the stiffener 43 from the channel 8 since this would require the forces to reverse their direction. The tendency is to rock the stiffener out of the channel with the inner end attempting to' swing downwardly. Since the stiffener 43 is of a material which resists crushing and will not bend in cross section, this rocking is prevented because the stiifener then forms a Wedge between the upper and lower surfaces of the channel 8. The greater the tension applied to the web the greater the wedging action created by the stiffener and thus the tighter the edges of the web are gripped by the rail. This provides a positive means of securing the web to the rails without the use of fasteners. Further, it permits it to be done with the forces generated in the web being transferred to the frame throughout all portions of the length of the web rather than at points of concentrated load transfer such as occurs with the use of conventional fasteners.

Where the side rails 4 are cast, the draft angle produces a somewhat V-shaped contour for the channels 8 and 9. This may be eliminated by subsequent machining but where the walls of the outer channels 8 are not made parallel by machining, this can permit the edges of the web 40 to work their way out of the channels. This is particularly pronounced in the curved area where the back and seat portions join. To eliminate this difliculty, the edges may be additionally secured by web locking members or pins 76 (FIG. 11). These can be of the driven or threaded type. The latter are considered preferable because they permit ready removal when it is desired to change the web 40. Such a pin is illustrated and consists of a smooth shank portion passing through the edge of the web and particularly the stiffener strip 43. While it is not essential it is preferable that its end project into a blind socket in the upper wall of the channel 8. Its lower end has a head of greater diameter and threads into the lower wall of the channel 8. Its head may be provided with a tool engaging means such as a socket for a wrench. It will be recognized that the particular construction of the pin 70 described above is exemplary only since pins or set screws of various designs may be employed.

Several of the pins 70 are employed on each side rail, the number being determined by what is necessary to positively secure the web. They may be evenly spaced along the side rails 4 or largely concentrated in areas of maximum loading.

Where the terminal tubes or rolls 44 and 45 are formed,

' the stiffener 43 is omitted and the edges of the webs are wrapped into the sockets 13 and 14. The edges are secured by tightening the screws 16 (FIG. 5). This forms a positive grip for the web at these points while at the same time providing a neat and highly attractive terminationfor the web at the upper and lower ends of the frame.

Preferably, the web is made of a material such that it may be slightly stretched. The Web may be secured to the rails 4 before the rails are secured to the spreaders 20 and 21. In mounting the spreaders 20 and 21 the web is stretched enough to allow the terminal flanges 24 and 29 on one side to be introduced into the inner channel 9 of one of the rails. Preferably the stretching of the web is such that even after the terminal flanges 24 and 29 are seated to their full depth in the channel 9 the web is under sufficient tension that it will have a neat and tight appearance when the chair is not in use and will firmly support a person when seated in the chair.

From the above description, it will be easily understood that all that is necessary to change the web 40 on i the chair is to remove the four screws 16, remove the screws holding one of the rails to the terminal flanges 24 and 29. The pins 70, if any, are also removed either before or after the tension in the web has been released. The web may then be stretched sufiiciently to disengage the one rail from the upper and lower spreaders 26 and throughout its length is it supported by any auxiliary members such as would form points of high resistance, this construction provides a particularly comfortable chair. At all points of contact between the chair and the users body, the Web will flex to the general contour of the user with the pressure incident to the users weight being distributed reasonably uniformly throughout the area of contact.

The same general structure is used in the footstool 50 (FIGS. 7 and 8). The footstool has a pair of side rails 51, a spreader 52 and a supporting base 53. While it is entirely possible to build the footstool with exactly the same type of structure as that used for the chair so far as the mechanical attachments between the various parts are concerned, FIGS. 7 and 8 show a slightly different approach to this construction. In this case the side rails 51 have a smooth inner face 54 and a channel 55 only in the outer face. The channels 55 terminate at each end in a generally circular socket 56 as is employed in the chair. The side rails are also reinforced with a depending flange 57.

The spreader 52 has a shallow concavely contoured central portion 58, the ends 59 of which are flared and terminate in the attachment fingers 60. The outer faces of the flared ends 59 are designed to bear against the inner faces of the side rails 51 (FIGS. 8 and 9). The rails are secured to the spreader 52 by screws 61 passing through the ears 60.

The center of the spreader 52 has a depending boss 63 for reception of the upper end of the post 64 of the base 53. The base 53, like that of the chair 1, may be of any suitable configuration adequate to support the stool.

A web of identical construction to that used in the chair is used in the stool. Its edge margins are provided with the same type of stiffener and are introduced into the channels or grooves 55 of the side rails 51. When the spreader 52 is placed between the side rails 51, this web is placed under tension. The ends of the web are rolled to form the same type of tubular terminals as is employed in the chair and the edge margins of these rolls are secured in the sockets '56 by the screws 67. It will be seen that a stool of this construction provides the same advantages as to removability of the web as is provided by the chair. It also has the advantage of a freely flexible member to contact the users body with no points of high resistance to cause discomfort.

The various components used to make up this furniture may be made from any suitable material. Since the material is designed for both interior and exterior use, the frame is preferably of a high strength material resistant to the corrosive influences of exterior exposure. An example of such a material is a cast aluminum. The web may be of a woven material such as a fabric of natural or synthetic origin. It may also be of a sheet-like material such as leather or a synthetic, resinous material such as a polyvinyl chloride with or without internal reinforcement. It is also possible that the web be of a composite structure such as one or more sheets of a material of woven or sheet form separated by an interlayer of a resilient material such as foam rubber. These constructions are recited merely as illustrative of the structure of the Web and are not to be considered limitations upon the invention since the particular composition or materials used in the web are not of themselves a part of this invention, except that they have the characteristics previously recited as necessary or desirable for attaining the objectives of the invention.

While a preferred embodiment of this invention has been described it will be recognized that various modifications may be made. Such of these modifications as incorporate the principles of this invention are to be considered as included in the hereinafter appended claims unless these claims by their language expressly state otherwise.

We claim:

1. A chair having a frame, said frame having a pair of side members contoured to define both the seat and back portions thereof; a web-like member secured to both of said side members and extending between them; a pair of spreader members one between the back portions of said side members and the other between the seat portions of said side members; said spreader members holding said side members apart and said Web-like member under tension; a base element joined to the one of said spreader members secured to the seat portions of said side members for supporting said frame.

2. A chair having a frame, said frame having a pair of side members contoured to define both the back and seat portions of said chair; said side members each having an upper surface and both an outwardly opening channel and an inwardly opening channel; a flexible web member having its marginal portions wrapped over said upper surfaces and its edges seated in the outwardly opening ones of said channels; a pair of spreader members each extending between said side members and having their ends seated in the inwardly opening ones of said channels; said spreader members holding said side members apart and said web under tension.

3. A chair as described in claim 1 wherein there is provided a base; said base being secured to one of said spreaders for supporting said frame.

4. A chair frame having a pair of side members contoured to define both the back and seat portions of said frame; said side members each having an upper surface and both an outwardly opening channel and an inwardly opening channel; a flexible web member having its marginal portions wrapped over said upper surfaces and its edges seated inthe outwardly opening ones of said channels; a pair of spreader members each extending between said side members and having their ends seated in the inwardly opening ones of said channels; said spreader members holding said side members apart and said Web under tension.

5. A chair frame, said frame having a pair of side members contoured to define both the back and seat portions of said frame; said side members each having an upper surface and an outwardly opening channel; a flexible web member having its marginal portions wrapped over said upper surfaces and its edges seated in said channels; a pair of spreader members each extending between and secured to said side members, said spreader members holding said side members apart and said web under tension; said edges seated in said channels each having a cross sectionally compression resistant member secured thereto for locking said edges in said channels when said web is under tension, said compression resistant member being of a size adapted to be received in said channels through their open faces.

,6. A chair frame, said frame having a pair of side members contoured to define both the back and seat portions of said frame; said side members each having an upper surface and an outwardly opening channel; a flexible web member having its marginal portions wrapped over said upper surfaces and its edges seated in said channels; a pair of spreader members each extending between and secured to said side members, said spreader members holding said side members apart and said web under tension; said edges seated in said channels each having a cross sectionally compression resistant member secured thereto for locking said edges in said channels when said web is under tension; said compression resistant member extending substantially the full length of said web, said compression resistant member being of a size adapted to be received in the channels through their open faces.

7. A chair having a frame, said frame having a pair of side members contoured to define both the seat and back portions thereof; a flexible web-like member secured to both of .said side members and extending between them; spreader means secured to said side members at said seat and back portions for holding said side members apart and said web-like member under tension; a supporting base for said chair secured to said spreader means, said spreader means being spaced substantially from both ends of said frame; said web-like member being coiled into a flexible, resilient roll at each end of said frame and forming the only connection bet-ween said side members at said ends, said roll being adapted to shape itself generally to the contacting portion of the anatomy of a person.

8. In a furniture structure having a frame; said frame having a pair of elongated spaced rail members; each of said rail members having a channel extending in the direction of elongation thereof, said channels opening oppositely from each other and away from the center of said frame, the outer open side of which is at least as wide as the inner side thereof; a web-like member having opposite edges characterized by rigidity and resistance to deformation in a direction normal to said edges and being insertable through the open sides of said channels and extending between said rail members and forming the only connection between said rail members at the ends thereof; said edges of said web-like member being received in said channels and securing said web to said rail members by engaging the walls of said channels; spreader elements extending between and secured to the sides of said rail members opposite from said channels and holding said rail members apart and said web like member under tension; a supporting base for said chair secured to one of said spreader elements, said spreader elements being spaced substantially from both ends of said rail members.

9. In a furniture structure having a frame; said frame having a pair of elongated laterally spaced side members; each of said side members having an upper surface and an outwardly opening channel, the outer open side of which is at least as wide as the inner side thereof; a weblike member having opposite edges each characterized by rigidity and resistance to deformation in a direction normal to said edges; said edges being insertable through the open sides of said channels; said web-like member extending between said side members and forming the only connection between said side members at the ends thereof; said web-like member adjacent said edges thereof being seated over said upper surfaces :and said edges being received in said channels; a spreader element extending between said side members and holding said side members apart and said web-like member under tension, said spreader element being spaced substantially from both ends of said side members.

10. In a furniture structure having a frame; said frame having a pair of elongated laterally spaced side members; each of said side members having an upper surface and an outwardly opening channel, the outer open side of which is at least as wide as the inner side thereof; a web-like member having edges each characterized by rigidity and resistance to deformation in a direction normal to said edges; said edges being insertable through the open sides of said channels; said web-like member extending between said side members and forming the only connection between said side members at the ends thereof; said web-like member being seated over said upper surfaces and said edges thereof received in said channels; a spreader element extending between said side members and holding said side members apart and said web-like member under tension, said spreader element being spaced substantially from both ends of said side members; a plurality of web locking members mounted in the Walls of each of said channels and engaging said edges of said web-like member in said channels,

11. In a furniture structure as defined in claim 9 wherein said furniture structure is a stool having a supporting base, said supporting base being secured to said spreader element.

12. In a furniture structure as defined in claim 9 wherein said furniture structure is a stool having a supporting base, said supporting base being secured to said spreader element; said weblike member being coiled into a roll at each of said ends of said side members.

13. In a furniture structure as defined in claim 9 wherein said furniture structure is a stool having a supporting base, said supporting base being secured to said spreader element; said spreader element being centered between said ends of said side members.

14. In 'a furniture structure as defined in claim 9 wherein said furniture structure is a stool having a supporting base, said supporting base being secured to said spreader element midway between said side members; said spreader element being centered between said ends of said side members; said web-like member being coiled into a roll at each of said ends of said side members.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification297/451.4, 297/440.11, 297/452.19, 297/440.15, 297/452.59, 297/283.2, 297/452.13, 297/DIG.200, 5/197, 297/DIG.100
International ClassificationA47C31/02, A47C3/12
Cooperative ClassificationY10S297/02, Y10S297/01, A47C31/023, A47C3/12
European ClassificationA47C31/02A, A47C3/12