US 3779177 A
Modular furniture such as wardrobes, clothes lockers, shelving, sliding door cabinets, filing cabinets and the like, is assembled from extruded sections that snap together at their ends and that also have special interconnecting members. Particular provision is made for the reception of sliding door panels and for the hanging of shelves from the modules, the sliding doors being lockable.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 1 Gigante 1 Dec. 18, 1973 MODULAR FURNITURE  Inventor: Ernesto Nesofsky Gigante, 21-23,
Alfonso Gomez St., Madrid, Spain  Filed: Mar. 31, 1971  Appl. No.: 129,694
 Foreign Application Priority Data Mar, 31, 1970 Spain 378111  US. Cl 108/114, 312/108, 312/257  Int. Cl. A47b 43/00, A47b 47/00  Field of Search 312/108, 111, 140,
312/257, 257 A, 263, 341 NR, 350; 108/111, 157; 211/177, 18 V; 287/54 C, 189.30 R; 52/571, 572, 281, 282
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,944,477 1/1934 Tillotson 312/350 X 3,150,903 9/1964 Chapman et al.. 312/138 R 3,159,439 12/1964 Miller 312/138 R 3,286,133 11/1966 Sturdivan... 312/108 3,419,933 l/l969 Gossen 312/138 R 3,438,164 4/1969 Duepree 312/350 X 3,451,183 6/1969 Lespagnol et al.... 52/282 3,525,560 8/1970 Gasner et al..... 312/257 R 3,528,559 9/1970 Miller 1 211/182 X 3,572,872 3/1971 Fenwick.... 312/263 3,600,052 8/1971 Marateck 312/263 FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 1,082,340 9/1967 Great Britain 312/350 1,175,001 3/1959 France 1 1 312/138 R 1,282,698 12/1961 France .1 312/341 NR Primary ExaminerPaul R. Gilliam Atl0rneyYoung & Thompson  ABSTRACT Modular furniture such as wardrobes, clothes lockers, shelving, sliding door cabinets, filing cabinets and the like, is assembled from extruded sections that snap together at their ends and that also have special interconnecting members. Particular provision is made for the reception of sliding door panels and for the hanging of shelves from the modules, the sliding doors being lockable.
5 Claims, 20 Drawing Figures PAIENIEBBEI: 18 ms SHEET 1!]? 8 PMENTEUBEC 18 I975 SHEET 3 OF 8 lOc PATENTEU use 18 I973 3,779,177
SHEET u or 8 PATENIED DEC 18 I975 SHEET 6 BF 8 Fig-1i PAIENIEB nu: 18 ms 3,779,177
. SHEET 8 [1F 8 MODULAR FURNITURE The present invention relates to modular furniture, more particularly of the type for homes and offices in which a wide variety of articles of furniture can be assembled from a relatively small number of modular units.
It is an object of the present invention to provide modular furniture whose parts are standardized for the construction of the widest variety of furniture from the least number of pieces.
Another object of the present invention is the provision of modular furniture which can be quickly and easily assembled without resort to special tools for the assembly or disassembly thereof.
Finally, it is an object of the present invention to provide modular furniture whose components are relatively simple and inexpensive to manufacture, and rugged and durable in use.
Other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from a consideration of the following description, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a fragmentary perspective exploded assembly view of the mating ends of an upright and a horizontal rail according to the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a fragmentary exploded assembly view of a horizontal member and a member for connecting it to an upright as in FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a plan view of an upright and the connector member shown at the bottom of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is an end view of the horizontal member shown in FIG. 2, in combination with the clip that holds it in assembly with the connector member shown at the bottom of FIG. 2;
FIG. 5 is a side cross-sectional view of an upright as at the left of FIG. I, supporting shelving on opposite sides thereof and in combination with a central sliding vertical panel; 1
FIG. 6 is a plan view of an upright as at the left of FIG. 1, in combination with means for interconnecting it with an upright panel;
FIG. 7 is a side elevational view looking edgewise at shelving supported according to the present invention in combination with vertically superposed sliding panels, portions of the shelving and panels being broken away;
FIG. 8 is a view similar to FIG. 4 but showing the horizontal member interconnected with horizontal shelving and a vertical panel;
FIG. 9 is a plan view of an upright as at the left of FIG. I, in combination with an upright panel and a horizontal rail as at the right of FIG. 1, and also in combination with a horizontal member as at the top of FIG. 2, in a furniture assembly used close to a wall;
FIG. 10 is an edgewise side elevational view of a panel which would be used with the assembly of FIG. 9 if that assembly were spaced from a wall so that the side of the assembly of FIG. 9 which in FIG. 9 faces the wall were instead exposed;
FIG. 1 1 is a side elevational view of a covered assembly including an upright sliding panel;
FIG. 12 is a side elevational view showing two vertically superposed sliding panels edgewise;
FIG. 13 is a view similar to FIG. 5 but showing the assembly in use for supporting sliding drawers;
FIG. 14 is a side elevational view of a plastic plug which forms a runner for the sliding doors of the present invention;
FIG. 15 is a plan view of the plug of FIG. 14;
FIG. 16 is a front elevational view of a portion of a sliding panel according to the present invention, showing the fingerpiece recess;
FIG. 17 is a cross-sectional view taken on the line AA of FIG. 16;
FIG. 18 is a side cross-sectional view showing the interior of the horizontal member at the top of FIG. 2, with the locking means for permitting or preventing sliding of the panels on that horizontal member;
FIG. 19 is a view of a portion of the locking mechanism shown in FIG. 18; and
FIG. 20 is a cross-sectional view of a sliding panel showing the spring-urged pin that coacts with the locking mechanism of FIGS. 18 and 19.
Referring now to the drawings in greater detail, and first to FIG. 1, there is shown a horizontal cross member or rail 1 having its ends beveled for insertion into the interior of a channel section upright 2 comprising a leg of the furniture, upon assembly of the parts in the direction of the arrow shown in FIG. 1. To this end, rail 1 has laterally outwardly projecting teeth la on opposite sides thereof that engage with a resilient snap action in corresponding opposed vertical recesses 2a in upright 2, the upright 2 having limited resiliency for this purpose, as in the case of a metal extrusion such as aluminum. Corresponding inwardly extending projections 2b on upright 2 at the same time snap into vertical recesses 11) on rail 1.
Rail I is also provided with horizontally extending integral flanges 1c and 1d below wings Ie, the flange Ic terminating in a vertical lip at right angles thereto, which extend outwardly from opposite sides of rail 1 and which define between them recesses for the reception of edges of panels forming portions of the fumiture. Four vertical ribs If depend from the lower edge of rail 1 and form three longitudinally extending recesses in the central one of which the edge of a such panel is received. Finally, rails I have end notches Ig therein, for the reception of T-shaped strips 5 in a manner which will be described hereinafter.
The channel section comprising upright 2 has on its inner surface opposed ribs 2c extending toward each other in the same plane and spaced apart a distance equal to the distance between the central pair of ribs If and the same distance as between the Wings 12. Upright 2 also has constructions at 2d which form the bottoms of oppositely laterally outwardly opening channels 2e of T-shaped cross section. The legs of the channel section comprising upright 2 are also provided with opposed pairs of recesses 2f therein, for purposes which will become apparent in connection with FIGS. 5 and 13.
In FIG. 2 is shown a fragment of a horizontal rail or member 3 positionable at the base or top of the fumiture, which forms with the rails 1 and uprights 2 the principal framework of the furniture. A T-shaped member 5 is also shown in FIG. 2, whose manner of assembly will be described in greater detail hereinafter.
FIG. 3 shows in greater detail the manner in which a member 5 coacts with an upright 2 to interconnect the upright 2 with the member 5.
FIG. 4 is an elevational view taken endwise of a member 3 at the base of furniture according to the present invention. As is there seen, the member 3 has on its upper surface three longitudinal parallel ribs 3a and 3b, the ribs 3a being of right angle cross section extending toward each other and the ribs 3b being T-shaped. These ribs define between them channels 3c whose bottoms are convex so as easily to support sliding door panels (not shown).
On its underside, the member 3 has ribs 3d and 3e, defining between them channels 3f, to receive and guide the upper edges of subjacent sliding door panels (not shown). Alternatively, when member 3 is used as a base member, the unit can simply rest on the ribs 3d and 32 on the floor.
One lateral side 33 of member 3 is smooth and may face to the front or outer side of the furniture, while the opposite side of member 3g has, reading from top to bottom in FIG. 4, a longitudinally extending rib 3h that extends downwardly, a laterally outwardly projecting longitudinal rib 3i which deflnes with rib 3/1 a horizontal recess 3j whose purpose will be seen from FIG. 8; a rib 3k that terminates in a downwardly extending lip, which with a rib 31 forms a channel 3m whose purpose will be explained hereinafter; a rib 3n which with rib 31 forms a channel 3p of lesser depth than channel 3m; and a rib 3r terminating in an upwardly extending lip which with rib 3n forms a channel 3s. On its interior, member 3 has four ribs 3t arranged as shown in FIG. 4, for a purpose to be described in connection with FIG. 18.
Member 3 can also form the upper edge of a piece of furniture, in which case the ribs 3a and 3b can be omitted and the upper surface of member 3 can be flat.
As best seen in FIG. 2, the ribs BI and 3n are notched at 4 for coaction with the member 5, which in turn has (FIG. 2) a web 5a and notches and projections 5b and 5c in the web, for the reception of corresponding portions of upright 2 (see FIG. 3). Web 5a in turn has recesses and projections 5d thereon for coaction with notches 4. The members 5 slide in the channel 3p until the formations 5d snap into the notches 4, which cates the member 5 longitudinally relative to the member 3. The members 5 are prevented from pulling out of the channel 3;: by means of resilient clips 6, whose legs have oppositely outwardly extending projections 6a thereon that snap under the flanges of ribs 3k and Sr, as seen in FIG. 4, the clips 6 receiving the members 5 within their confines and being of a depth transversely of members 3 sufficient to prevent movement of the members 5 outwardly from the channel 3p.
To assemble a furniture frame or system of paneling or wardrobe or the like from the modular units thus far described, rails 1 may be snapped into uprights 2 in the manner described above, in vertically spaced relationship to each other, with a number of such subassemblies of rails l and uprights 2 at opposite ends of the rails l interconnected by means of members 3 to which are secured the members by means of clips 6, the members 5 in turn being interconnected to the uprights 2 as seen in FIG. 3.
Turning now to FIG. 5, there is shown the assembly of upright panels 8 and horizontal shelves 9 to the uprights 2, by means of hangers 7. Each hanger 7 has a horizontal upper end 7a, connected to a vertical portion 7b, connected to a horizontal portion 70 in stepwise fashion, connected to a further vertical portion 7d which in turn is connected to a horizontal portion 72 that terminates in an upwardly directed portion 7f having an outwardly inclined lip 7g.
To assemble the structure of FIG. 5, the portions 7a and 7b are inserted in the recesses 2funtil the portion 7b rests against the inner side of upright 2 and more particularly against the recess 2a; the horizontal 7c rests on the base of recess 2f; while the vertical portion of 7d rests on the outer side of upright 2. The horizontal portions 7a extend toward each other but are spaced apart a distance equal to the distance between ribs 20, which is also about the thickness of the panel 8, so that the insertion of the panel 8 prevents inadvertent dislocation of the members 7 from the FIG. 5 position. Then the shelves 9 are seated on members 7 in the FIG. 5 position, with the vertical portions 7f and lips 7g received in recesses 9a on the other side of shelves 9.
FIG. 6 shows a top plan view of a connection between an upright 2 and vertical panel 12, for which purpose there is provided an upright 10 of generally E- shaped cross section having a rib 10a perpendicular to its web and terminating in a lip 10b at right angles to rib 10a, a further rib of right angular cross section and carrying a lip 10d thereon of triangular cross section, then finally a rib Mle of a height approximately twice that of ribs 10a and 10c. At the edge opposite rib l0e, upright 10 carries a further rib 10f that has an obliquely inclined portion lllgterminating in a loop 10h. Upright 10 is releasably interconnected with upright 2 by inserting the portions 10f, 10g and 10h in the channel 2e in the manner shown in FIG. 6.
The panel 12 is then received by ribs 100 and 10c in the manner shown in FIG. 6, after which a removable upright batten strip of generally C-shaped cross section is snapped into position with its C-shaped flanged edge recess 1 1a rotatably receiving the lip 10b and its triangular cross section flange 11b snapping over the lip 10d, the latter edge of strip 11a extending out beyond rib 10c and retaining the edge of panel 12 between strip 11 and flange 108.
FIG. 7 shows a side view of a connection between vertically superposed upright panels 12 and the horizontal shelf 9, in the form of a horizontally extending profile member 13 having spaced parallel upright flanges 13a and 13b, the latter having terminating upwardly in a horizontal flange 13c and downwardly in a horizontal flange 13d that terminates in an upright lip 13e that releasably fits in the downwardly opening recess 9a of shelf 9. The web l3fof member 13 interconnects the flanges 13a and 13b and supports the upper of the panels l2.
FIG. 8 is somewhat similar to FIG. 7, but shows the coupling of a member 3 to a shelf 9 and an upright panel 12. The connection between the shelf 9 and the panel 112 is as seen in FIG. 7. The connection of the shelf 9 to the member 3, however, is by means of a member 14 having an upright portion 14a connected to a horizontal portion 14b connected stepwise to a further upright portion 140, connected to a horizontal portion 14d and terminating in further upright portion llde with a lip 14f thereon. Portions 14a and 14b are received in the channel 3] also shown in FIG. 4, with the portion 14a against the base of that channel and the portion 14b resting on the rib 31' thereby releasably to retain the member 14 in the channel 3] with an outwardly extending horizontal lip along the upper edge of portion 14a retained behind the lip 3h as seen in FIG. 8. The shelf 9 rests on the horizontal portion 14d with the upright portion Me and its lip 14f received in a downwardly opening recess in shelf 9.
FIG. 9 shows a top cross-sectional view of the arrangement of furniture according to the present invention so closely adjacent the wall 16 that the adjacent side of the furniture is not visible from the front. For this purpose, a profile of substantially .I-shaped cross section has a vertical leg of sufficient length to overlie both the upright 2 and the end of the member 3 and thus to close the ends of the channels 3c and the member 2 to retain therein the horizontal sliding door supported by these channels. Profile 15 has a rib 15a at one end that bears against one of the legs of the channel comprising upright 2, and a generally T-shaped rib 15b that fits in the T-shaped recess 2e of upright 2. A flange 15c perpendicular to the web of profile 15 extends in the direction parallel to but away from the member 3 and terminates in the flange 15a having an inturned lip 15f along its edge. A right angular rib 15d is provided along the inner side of flange 150. A rubber sealing strip 17 is clamped between the lip 15f and a spring member 18 having a rib 18b that bears resiliently against the side of the web of profile 15, and a lip 18a that is removably received within the rib 15d. The coaction of lip 18a and rib 18b resiliently urges spring member 18 into clamping engagement against strip 17, the strip 17 in turn bearing at its free edge against the wall 16 to close the joint between the furniture and the wall.
FIG. 10 is a fragmentary edgewise elevational view of structure for finishing the sides of the piece of furniture when the sides are visible, in contrast to the situation of FIG. 9 in which the sides are invisible. FIG. 10 should thus be considered in connection with FIG. 9. In FIG. 10, is shown a horizontal molding 19 which bears an inverted V-shaped channel member 20 that rides in a correspondingly shaped horizontal recess 21a along the upper edge of a side panel 21 for purposes of inserting and removing the molding 19. At its ends, panel 21 bears upright grooves 21b which receive the ribs 15d of the profiles 15 when the edges of panel 21 are inserted in profiles 15 in lieu of the strip 17 and the member 18.
FIG. 11 shows a side cross-sectional view of a connection between a panel 12 and a shelf or cover 23, wherein a profile 22 is provided that has appropriate webs and flanges and lips to receive a side edge of the shelf or cover 23, an upper edge of the panel 12, and fit into a downwardly opening recess 23a in the shelf or cover 23. The recess 23acan be a groove so that the shelf or cover 23 is assembled by sliding its associated end parallel to and into the profile 22. At its other side, which is the right end of FIG. 11, the shelf or cover 23 has a downwardly opening recess 23b by which the shelf or cover 23 may be assembled to a member 3 in the manner shown in FIG. 8.
FIG. 12 is a top plan view of a connection between two panels 24, by means of a profile 25 of generally I- shaped cross section.
FIG. 13 is a view similar to FIG. 5 but showing how drawers 27 may be slidably suspended from hangers 26 that ride in endwise outwardly opening recesses 27a in the drawers 27.
FIGS. 14 and 15 are respectively side and plan views of anti-friction members to be embedded in slots formed in the edges of doors of modular furniture according to the present invention, for anti-friction purposes. To this end, the members 28 are of solid nylon or other low friction plastic material, having teeth 28a to resist displacement from the slot or groove in the lower edge of the door, and having an enlarged plate 28b integral therewith which projects beyond the profile of the door and on which the door slidably rides.
FIGS. 16 and 17 are respectively front elevational and cross-sectional (on the line A-A of FIG. 16) views of a door 30 for modular furniture according to the present invention, in which a fingerpiece 29 in the form of a cup is provided with a peripheral flange 29a and side and bottom walls 29b, the cup fitting in a corre sponding cylindrical recess in the door to provide a good grip for horizontal sliding of the door in its own plane.
FIG. 18 is a view in longitudinal section of the member 3, showing on a portion of the inside thereof the mechanism for locking and releasing sliding panels that ride in the channels 30 and 3f of member 3.
As best seen in FIG. 18, the member 3 carries on its underside a lock 31 for receiving a key which upon rotation reciprocates in a horizontal direction a bolt 32 to which are pivotally connected the ends of bars 33 that terminate in hooks 33a that extend toward each other. Each hook 33a penetrates a hole 341: in a rectangular plate 34 (see FIG. 19) from which two spring fingers 35 have been stamped and bent up. The spring fingers 35 carry protuberances 35a thereon of a size and shape to enter and fill openings (not shown) that extend through the bottoms of the recesses 3c and 3f.
The sliding panels 37 (see FIG. 20) are recessed to receive housings 36 which are open at both ends and have a plate 38 in the bottom thereof against which a coil-compression spring 39 bears, the other end of the spring 39 bearing against the enlarged head 40a ofa pin 40, the housings 36 having a turned edge at its outer end which engages head 40a to prevent pin 40 from being pushed out of the recess by spring 39.
As panel 37 slides horizontally with its opposite edges disposed in channels 30 and 3fof member 3, the pin 40 will be forced into the housings 36 by the bottom of the channels. When the pin 40 engages one of the aforementioned openings in the bottom of the channels 3c or 3f, then the pin 40 tends to pop into that opening and lock the sliding door against furthe movement. As the interior of the members 3 is inaccessible, there is no way to retract the pin 40 from the aforementioned opening in the channel bottom, so that the panel 37 is locked in that horizontally adjusted position, which will ordinarily be a closed position.
However, when lock 31 is actuated to shift the plates 34 laterally in sliding relation on ribs 3!, then the protuberance 35a will slide along the surface of the bottom of channel 3c or 3f which is internal to member 3, until it reaches the same opening in the channel bottom, whereupon the protuberance 31a will pop into that opening under the spring force of the spring finger 35, which spring force is greater than the force of spring 39. If a pin 40 is in that opening, the pin 40 will be forced out and the opening will be occupied by protuberance 35a, so that the panel 37 can slide freely without locking. Therefore, the locking operation of the panel, in what will ordinarily be the closed position of the panel, will take place when the lock 31 is in such a position that protuberance 34a does not occupy the above-described opening. The panel 37 will slide until it locks, for example closed, by entry of the pin 40 into the opening in question.
To unlock the panel, the lock 31 is actuated until the protuberance 35a pops the pin 40 out of its locking position, after which the panel 37 can be freely slid horizontally.
It will thus be recognized that the present invention is adapted to the formation of a wide variety of pieces of furniture, such as wardrobes, filing cabinets, clothes lockers, shelving, storage space and many other applications, and wide variety of furniture being assembled from a relatively small number of modular units.
From a consideration of the foregoing disclosure, therefore, it will be evident that the initially recited objects of the present invention have been achieved.
Although the present invention has been described and illustrated in connection with preferred embodiments, it is to be understood that modifications and variations may be resorted to without departing from the spirit of the invention, as those skilled in this art will readily understand. Such modifications and variations are considered to be within the purview and scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims.
Having described my invention, I claim:
1. Modular furniture comprising a pair of uprights in the form of channel members opening toward each other, a horizontal rail extending between said uprights, each said channel member having upright flanges that engage on opposite sides of one end of said rail, said flanges having projections thereon that extend inwardly toward each other, said ends of said rail having teeth thereon that extend outwardly away from each other, said uprights and said rail having recesses on the inner sides of said projections and said teeth respectively, said projections and said teeth having beveled surfaces that interengage when said ends of said rail are inserted into said channel members whereby said furniture resiliently deforms as said beveled surfaces slide over each other until said projections enter said rail recesses and said teeth enter said channel member recesses with a resilient snap action, said up rights having upright ribs thereon that are disposed on the inner side of said recesses and that extend toward each other, and an upright panel having upright edges disposed between said ribs.
2. Modular funiture as claimed in claim 1, and means for resleasably supporting shelving on said uprights.
3. Modular furniture as claimed in claim 2, said uprights being in the form of channel members having slots through the legs of the channels, said shelving support means comprising hangers releasably retained in said slots.
4. Modular furniture as claimed in claim 3, said hang ers having upper ends that extend within the channels of said uprights, said panel holding said upper ends against dislodgement.
5. Modular furniture as claimed in claim 1, and a horizontal member at one of the vertical extremities of the furniture and means releasably interconnecting said horizontal member with a said upright, said releasable interconnecting means comprising a member recessed to receive a portion of a said upright and a portion releasably engageable with said horizontal member.