Title:
Table-mounted screen apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A screening apparatus includes a screen panel having an aperture and a bent wire screen support which includes a top leg extending through the aperture for supporting the screen panel around an edge of a table top. The screen support also includes a pair of vertical wire sections which extend downwardly from the top leg in a manner supporting a rear surface of the screen panel, and further includes forwardly extending bottom legs that extend through a bottom edge of the screen panel and that attach to a screen-supporting furniture unit, such as a table.



Inventors:
Nobles, Joe A. (San Francisco, CA, US)
Sorel, Todd J. (Hayward, CA, US)
Williams, Otto N. (San Francisco, CA, US)
Sorel, Jess A. (Oakland, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/732019
Publication Date:
06/16/2005
Filing Date:
12/10/2003
Assignee:
NOBLES JOE A.
SOREL TODD J.
WILLIAMS OTTO N.
SOREL JESS A.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B17/00; A47C7/72; (IPC1-7): A47B17/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
TRAN, HANH VAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PRICE HENEVELD COOPER DEWITT & LITTON, LLP (695 KENMOOR, S.E., P O BOX 2567, GRAND RAPIDS, MI, 49501, US)
Claims:
1. An apparatus for providing visual privacy for a furniture system including a table, comprising: a screen panel made of an incompressible flexible material, the screen panel including at least one aperture formed in an interior region thereof; the material characteristically being self-supporting when in a vertical upright position and flexed to a bowed condition about a vertical axis; and a screen support including a furniture-engaging mount section adapted for mounting to the table, and further including a forwardly-projecting holder section extended through the aperture for engaging and supporting the screen panel in the interior region, the screen support further including a vertical upright section supporting the holder section above the mount section.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the vertical upright section engages and supports a rear surface of the screen panel.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein an upper portion of the screen panel that is located above the aperture is self-supporting, and is characteristically not supported by a separate frame.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, including a table top with an angled screen support being attached to the table top along a rear edge thereof and the shelf providing a visual front shield to areas under the table top.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the screen panel comprises a translucent sheet of solid plastic material.

6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the vertical upright section and the holder section are made from a one-piece blank.

7. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein the one-piece blank comprises a bent wire.

8. The apparatus of claim 7, wherein the vertical upright section includes a pair of vertical rod sections spaced apart by a horizontal rod section forming the forwardly-projecting holder section.

9. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the screen support defines an inverted U-shape.

10. The apparatus of claim 9, including a retainer located between the horizontal rod section and a front surface of the screen panel.

11. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the at least one screen support includes two screen supports which are spaced apart, and wherein the screen panels inner region further includes two apertures.

12. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the aperture is near a center of the screen panel at a mid-level of the screen panel.

13. The apparatus of claim 1, including a retainer that frictionally engages the forwardly-projecting holder section on a front surface of the screen panel to securely attach the screen support to the screen panel.

14. A screen system comprising: a screen panel having an aperture; and a bent wire screen support including a top leg extending through the aperture for holding the screen panel upright, a pair of vertical wire sections extending downwardly from the top leg and that engage and support a rear surface of the screen panel, and a pair of bottom legs that extend forwardly along a bottom edge of the screen panel for attachment to a screen-supporting furniture unit.

15. The screen system of claim 14, wherein the screen panel is self-supporting when bowed slightly about a vertical axis to a non-planar shape.

16. The screen system of claim 14, wherein the screen panel has a thickness and is non-compressible in a direction of the thickness such that the screen panel is self-supporting.

17. The screen system of claim 14, wherein the screen panel comprises a translucent sheet of solid plastic material.

18. The screen system of claim 14, including a retainer that engages the top leg section to securely frictionally attach the bent wire screen support to the screen panel.

19. The screen system of claim 14, wherein the bent wire screen support has an inverted U-shape.

20. The screen system of claim 14, including a second bent wire screen support engaging a second aperture in the screen panel.

21. A screen system comprising: a screen panel; a furniture bracket having a body configured for attachment to a furniture unit and having attachment tabs that extend from the body; and a screen support including a mount section attached to the screen panel and supporting the screen panel from a rear surface thereof, and further including a pair of forwardly extending legs that extend forward of the screen panel into engagement with the attachment tabs of the furniture bracket.

22. The screen system of claim 21, wherein the pair of forwardly extending legs are parallel and formed of wire.

23. The screen system of claim 21, wherein the pair of forwardly extending legs are telescopingly connected to a first pair of apertures in the attachment tabs of the furniture bracket.

24. The screen system of claim 23, wherein the pair of forwardly extending legs are retained within the apertures in the attachment tabs by a fastener.

25. The screen system of claim 24, wherein the furniture bracket body includes a plurality of second apertures for receiving screws, and is adapted and configured to engage a flat underside of a table.

26. The screen system of claim 21, wherein the furniture bracket body includes a plurality of apertures for receiving screws, and is adapted and configured to engage a flat underside of a chair.

27. A screening apparatus for providing visual privacy for a furniture system including a table, where the table includes an edge, the apparatus comprising: a screen panel made of an incompressible flexible sheet material having a thickness, the sheet material being flexed to a bowed condition about a vertical axis and characteristically being self-supporting when in the bowed condition; and a support engaging and supporting the screen panel.

28. The screening apparatus defined in claim 27, wherein the screen panel includes at least one aperture formed in an interior region thereof, and the support engages the aperture.

29. The screening apparatus defined in claim 27, wherein the support engages an interior region of the screen panel, with outer portions of the screen panel extending in cantilever from the interior region and characteristically not being supported by a frame separate from the support.

Description:

BACKGROUND

The present invention relates to office furniture requiring a degree of privacy, and more particularly relates to a table-mounted screen apparatus for office furniture.

In today's dynamic work environment, there is a need to support a wide variety of work areas and activities, especially relaxed collaboration/teaming activities that promote a good exchange of ideas and thoughts. Preferably, the furniture in these work areas is re-configurable in order to provide the office environment with a cost-effective and practical means to meet current as well as future needs. One work area that has recently gained favor is the semi-private informal meeting area. These areas are characterized by their relatively open design, in that these areas are typically not confined within a walled environment, and they are typically utilized to support informal collaborative discussions and presentations. Nonetheless, the participants desire at least a modest degree of privacy.

Screens can be used to meet the requirements for privacy in these areas while retaining the modular character of the furniture and the openness of a non-walled area. However, the screens must be cost-effective and easy to manufacture and install. Further, they must be secure once installed so that they do not get knocked out of alignment and/or give a low-quality appearance. Also, the screens should preferably provide an aesthetically pleasing and modernistic appearance. It is also desirable to provide the user with a feeling that the furniture is stable and well-built. Notably, it can be difficult to impart this stable and well-built feeling into thin and flexible partition screens. Further, these screen systems should preferably be easily assembled as well as easily changed and reconfigured. Additionally, these partition screens must provide privacy while simultaneously not totally blocking light nor blocking the ability to determine if an individual is on the other side of the screen.

Thus, a system having the aforementioned advantages and solving the aforementioned problems is desired.

SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

In one aspect of the present invention, an apparatus is provided for giving visual privacy to a furniture system including a table. The apparatus includes a screen panel made of an incompressible flexible material. The screen panel includes at least one aperture formed in an interior region thereof and is made of a material that is self-supporting when in a vertical upright position and flexed to a bowed condition about a vertical axis. A screen support is provided that includes a furniture-engaging mount section adapted for mounting to the table, a forwardly-projecting holder section extended through the aperture for engaging and supporting the screen panel in the interior region, and a vertical upright section supporting the holder section above the mount section.

In another aspect of the present invention, a screen system includes a screen panel having an aperture and a bent wire screen support. The bent wire screen support includes a top leg extending through the aperture for holding the screen panel upright, a pair of vertical wire sections extending downwardly from the top leg and that engage and support a rear surface of the screen panel, and a pair of bottom legs that extend forwardly along a bottom edge of the screen panel for attachment to a screen-supporting furniture unit.

In still another aspect of the present invention, a screen system includes a screen panel, a furniture bracket, and a screen support. The furniture bracket has a body configured for attachment to a furniture unit and has attachment tabs that extend from the body. The screen support includes a mount section attached to the screen panel and supporting the screen panel from a rear surface thereof, and further includes a pair of forwardly extending legs that extend forward of the screen panel into engagement with the attachment tabs of the furniture bracket.

In another aspect of the present invention, a screening apparatus for providing visual privacy for a furniture system includes a table, where the table includes an edge. The screening apparatus comprises a screen panel made of an incompressible flexible sheet material having a thickness, the sheet material being flexed to a bowed condition about a vertical axis and characteristically being self-supporting when in the bowed condition. The screening apparatus also includes a support that engages and supports the screen panel.

These and other aspects, objects, and features of the present invention will be understood and appreciated by those skilled in the art upon studying the following specification, claims, and appended drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1-3 are perspective views of office meeting areas and screening systems for sectional seating in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the screening system, taken along line IV-IV of FIG. 1, and FIG. 4A is an exploded perspective view of a top of the screen support and adjacent area;

FIGS. 5-7 are perspective, side, and bottom views of a corner bridge table of FIG. 2;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a corner screen assembly of FIG. 1 (ready for attachment to the table of FIGS. 5-7);

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the screen support shown in FIGS. 1 and 8;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of an alternative screen support;

FIGS. 11-12 are perspective and bottom views of the linear bridge table shown in FIG. 1; and

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a “linear” screen assembly of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The illustrated office meeting areas (FIGS. 1-3) show various arrangements including “bench” lounge seating units 11 for group members, a “podium” lounge seating unit 12 for a presenting person, and various accessories such as tables 13-15, cushion trays 16, and the like, positioned in a relatively open seating area. The lounge seating units 11 and 12 are particularly well-adapted to support and promote informal collaborative discussions. In a preferred form, the seating units 11 and 12 incorporate high backs and/or screens 18 and 19, respectively, attached to their backs that form visual barriers and that help give people a sense of privacy when using the area. The present inventive screen system attaches to tables that bridge between and interconnect adjacent bench lounge seating units, with the screens adding substantially to the visual separation and privacy in the meeting area.

The present seating units 11 and 12 and the related tables 13-14 and accessories are sufficiently described below and shown in the drawings for a person of ordinary skill in the art of manufacturing furniture to understand the present invention. However, for additional information see the application concerning a furniture system having lounge seating units 11 and 12 entitled “FURNITURE SYSTEM FACILITATING INFORMAL COLLABORATION AND PRESENTATIONS”, co-invented and co-assigned, filed on even date herewith, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein in its entirety. The present screening system supplements and compliments the lounge seating units but provides them with increased privacy and functionality.

The present inventive screening system includes a corner-forming screen assembly 60 and a “linear” screen assembly 61 optimally configured for attachment to the end tables 13 and 14, respectively. However, it is contemplated that the screen assemblies 60 and 61 can be attached to a wide variety of different furniture, and accordingly, the present inventive concepts are not intended to be interpreted narrowly, except as specifically required in the claims.

The illustrated corner-forming end table 13 (FIGS. 5-7) includes a tubular frame 20 attached to a bottom surface of a corner table top 22 by brackets 23. The frame 20 includes a plurality of tubular horizontal frame sections 24, vertical frame sections 25, and at least one leg 26. The frame 20 includes a laterally-extending section 27 having attachment brackets 28 that extend outward from the corner table top 22 and that are configured for secure attachment to the lounge seating units 12, such as to a flat undersurface on the seating unit's base or frame. By this arrangement, the table frame 20 interconnects adjacent spaced-apart seating units 11, with the corner table top 22 positioned therebetween. Depending on a shape of the frame 20, the corner table top 22 can be positioned at or above a top surface of the seat cushions on the seating unit 11. It is noted that the illustrated corner table top 22 is square, but has one large radiused corner. However, the table top can be shaped and adapted as desired for a particular environment. The illustrated corner table top 22 includes an aperture 29 and a cup holder 30 to hold drink containers. The corner table top 22 includes a pair of linear edges 31 for abutment against the seating units 11, and a curvilinear edge formed by linear edge sections 32 and 33 and an arcuate corner section 34. The leg 26 is located generally under the curvilinear edge for supporting the least-supported area on the table 13. The bottom surface of the corner table top 22 includes a series of holes 36 (three sets of three are illustrated) along the curvilinear edge 31 for receiving attachment screws to secure the furniture bracket to the corner table top 22, as described below. The corner table top 22 is configured to visually continue the line at a rear edge of the seat cushions of the bench lounge seating units 11 around a 90° corner. (See FIGS. 1 and 2.)

The illustrated “linear” end table 14 (FIGS. 11-12) includes components similar to the end table 13. Specifically, the end table 14 includes a tubular frame 40 attached to a bottom surface of in-line table top 42 by brackets 43. The frame 40 includes a plurality of tubular horizontal frame sections 44, and vertical frame sections 45, but no leg (though it could include a leg if desired for additional strength to support weight). The frame 40 includes a laterally-extending section 47 having attachment brackets 48 that extend outward from the in-line table top 42 and that are configured for secure attachment to the lounge seating units 11, such as to a flat undersurface on the seating unit's base or frame. By this arrangement, the table frame 20 interconnects linearly-aligned adjacent spaced-apart seating units 11, with the in-line table top 42 positioned therebetween. (See FIGS. 1 and 3.) Depending on a shape of the frame 40, the in-line table top 42 can be positioned at or above a top surface of the seat cushions on the seating unit 11. It is noted that the in-line table top 42, like corner table top 22, can be shaped and adapted as desired for a particular environment. The illustrated in-line table top 42 includes an aperture 49 and a cup holder 50 to hold drink containers. The in-line table top 42 is rectangular (or square) and includes four orthogonally-related linear edges 51, the opposing side edges being for abutment against the seating units 11. The bottom surface (FIG. 12) of the in-line table top 42 includes a series of holes 53 for receiving attachment screws to secure the furniture bracket to the in-line table top 42, as described below. A cantilevered angled shelf 54, supported by a separate bracket 55 attached to a bottom of the in-line table top 42, is provided for supporting papers and/or magazines at an angled location under a front edge of the in-line table top 42. Advantageously, the angled shelf 54 includes a panel that is both useful for supporting paper items thereon, but also that visual shields from view any data, voice, and power utilities routed to the worksurface of table top 42.

The screen assembly 60 is particularly adapted for attachment to the corner-forming end table 13. The screen assembly 60 (FIG. 8) includes a screen panel 62, two screen supports 63, a U-shaped short screen support 63′, two retainers 64, and a furniture bracket 65. The furniture bracket 65 (FIG. 8) is a sheet component stamped from sheet metal, and is boomerang-shaped or C-shaped in plane view and has an L-shaped cross section formed by a horizontally-oriented C-shaped top plate 66 and downwardly extending flanges or tabs 67. A rear edge of the top plate 66 is arcuately shaped to bend the screen panel 62 to a desired arcuate shape having vertical strength and stiffness. The top plate 66 includes holes 68 that align with the holes 36 on the corner table top 22, so that screws or other fasteners can be used to securely attach the bracket 65 to the corner table top 22. Pairs of holes 69 are provided in the tabs 67.

The screen support 63 (FIG. 9) is a part made from bent wire to form an inverted U shape with laterally extending legs. The screen support 63 includes a bracket-engaging mount section (i.e. forwardly extending legs 72) adapted for engaging the holes 69. Spring clips 73 engage the ends of the legs 72 to retain them to the bracket 65. The screen support 63 further includes a forwardly-projecting holder section (i.e. the forwardly-extending top loop 74) shaped to be extended through the aperture 75 in an interior region of the screen panel 62. The retainer 64 is a piece made of stiff foam adapted to frictionally fit between the top loop 74 and the front surface of the screen panel 62, with the retainer 64 being tightly frictionally held in place. The aperture 75 is located about halfway up, and the top portion of the screen panel 62 extends upwardly above the top loop 74 in a self-supporting cantilevered manner. The screen support 63 further includes parallel vertical upright rod sections 76 that extend between and support the holder section 74 above the mount section 72. The upright rod sections 76 engage and support a back surface of the screen panel 63 in a manner adding stability to the screen panel 62. Notably, the upright rod sections 76 can include a rearward bend or “wow” 76′ at their bottom so that the natural curvature of the rods as they extend toward the legs 72 does not interfere with material at a bottom edge of the screen panel 62.

A supplemental “mini” screen support 63′ can also be used on the screen 60 to better form a center of the bent area on the screen panel 62. The screen support 63′ is U-shaped, and it includes a flat section that engages the screen panel 62 (FIG. 2), and a pair of legs 63″ that engage the center of bracket 65 (FIG. 8).

The screen panel 62 is a solid sheet of translucent plastic material, such as fiberglass polymeric material that is about 0.060 inches thick (i.e. about {fraction (1/16)} inches thick). The screen panel material is incompressible and semi-stiff, but is flexible and bendable such that the sheet material is self-supporting when flexed about a vertical axis to form a curved or curvilinear shape around a corner. Thus, the screen panel 62 does not require a separate perimeter frame. This is believed to be a particularly novel and inventive feature of the present inventive concepts. The illustrated screen panel 62 is about 37 inches in height, and has a top edge located a few inches below the back screens of the bench seating units 21 for visual effect, but it is noted that larger (and smaller) dimensions are possible, particularly as the sheet thickness is varied. A prototype of screen panel 62 was constructed, and a sheet of material having a stiffness of about 22,000 psi (per test method ASTM D-790), a tensile strength of about 11,500 psi (ASTM D-638), a compressive strength of about 34,500 psi (ASTM D-695), and an abrasion resistance of about 45 mg (ASTM D-1044) was found to be an acceptable material. The stiffness was sufficiently flexible to permit bending the screen panel 62 around a curvilinear edge of a table top, but which was stiff enough to be self-supporting, even when the screen panel 62 extended in cantilever up to about 20 inches above (or laterally from) the aperture 75. The aperture 75 is formed in an interior region of the screen panel 62, about halfway up the screen panel, and is horizontally elongated and vertically narrow so that it mateably receives the forward top loop 74 of the screen support 63. Two such apertures 75 are shown, one each being located about midway horizontally along linear edge sections 32 and 33, each being adapted to receive a top loop 74 of a screen support 63.

As illustrated by FIG. 10, the screen support can be made in various shapes. The particular screen support 83 (FIG. 10) is wider than the screen support 63, and the top loop 74′ is wider, though it is noted that the forwardly extending portion 74″ of top loop 74′ is the same length as top loop 74. It will be understood that a wide variety of different shapes are possible. It is also contemplated that the top loop 74 (or 74′) could have an upward flare so that it interlocks into the aperture 75 in a manner that does not require a separate retainer 64. The upright rod sections 76 are parallel and they engage and support a back surface of the screen panel 62. The rod sections 76 engage a planar end portion of the illustrated screen panel 22, but it is contemplated that they could be used to mateably support the curved portion of the screen panel 62, if desired.

The screen assembly 61 (FIG. 13) includes a screen panel 82, a screen support 83, a retainer 84, and a furniture bracket 85. Each of components 82-85 are similar to components 62-65, except as follows. The bracket 85 is linearly shaped for mounting to the underside of the in-line table top 42 of the rectangular table 14. A rear edge 85′ of the bracket 85 is slightly arcuate in shape, so that when the screen panel 82 is attached, the screen panel 82 is flexed and bent about a vertical axis to an arcuate shape, thus giving the screen panel 82 sufficient strength to be self-supporting, even in that portion of the screen panel 82 that extends well above the aperture (75). The remaining aspects of the components 82-85 are believed to be relatively clear and do not require duplicative redundant discussion for an understanding by skilled artisans.

It is to be understood that variations and modifications can be made on the aforementioned structure without departing from the concepts of the present invention, and further it is to be understood that such concepts are intended to be covered by the following claims unless these claims by their language expressly state otherwise.