Title:
Set of office chairs
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention relates to a set of office chairs, comprising a first species of office chairs and a second species of office chairs. The office chairs of both the first and the second species each comprise a pedestal to support the chair on a floor surface, a seat and a back rest. The first species of office chairs differs from the second species of office chairs with respect to the construction of the seat such that the seat of the office chairs of the first species is adapted to the male anatomy and the seat of the office chairs of the second species is adapted to the female anatomy.



Inventors:
Steifensand, Gernot M. (Wendelstein, DE)
Application Number:
10/118447
Publication Date:
11/28/2002
Filing Date:
04/08/2002
Assignee:
STEIFENSAND GERNOT M.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C3/00; A47C7/02; (IPC1-7): A47C7/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
EDELL, JOSEPH F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DAVID TOREN, ESQ. (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. Set of office chairs comprising a first species of office chairs and a second species of office chairs, wherein the office chairs of both the first and the second species each comprise a pedestal to support the chair on a floor surface, a seat, and a back rest, the first species of office chairs differing from the second species of office chairs with respect to the construction of the seat such that the seat of the first species of office chairs is adapted to the male anatomy and the seat of the second species of office chairs is adapted to the female anatomy.

2. Set of office chairs as claimed in claim 1, wherein the office chairs of the first species and the office chairs of the second species each have an identical pedestal.

3. Set of office chairs as claimed in claim 1, wherein the office chairs of the first species and the office chairs of the second species each have an identical back rest.

4. Set of office chairs as claimed in claim 1, wherein the seats of the office chairs of one of the first species and the second species differ from those of the other species in each case in having a different configuration of a front central region of the seat.

5. Set of office chairs as claimed in claim 1, wherein the seats of the office chairs of one of the first species and the second species differ from those of the other species in each case in having a different configuration of a strip-like support region that bounds the seats in a back region toward the back rest.

6. Set of office chairs as claimed in claim 1, wherein the seat of the first species of office chairs adapted to the male anatomy defines at least one of an opening and an indentation in a front central region of the seat.

7. Set of office chairs as claimed in claim 1, wherein a front central region of the seat of the second species of office chairs adapted to the female anatomy is constructed substantially as a continuous surface defining no opening or indentation.

8. Set of office chairs as claimed in claim 1, wherein the seat of the first species of office chairs adapted to the male anatomy comprises a posterior, strip-like support region forming a pelvic support that slopes upward toward the back rest.

9. Set of office chairs as claimed in claim 8, wherein the seat of the second species of office chairs adapted to the female anatomy comprises a strip-like support region that slopes upward toward the back rest less steeply than the strip-like support region of the first species.

10. A method for the automated selection of office chairs from a set of office chairs as claimed in any of claims 1 to 9, comprising the steps of providing a set of office chairs that comprises at least one office chair belonging to the first species and at least one office chair belonging to the second species; asking the sex of the user for whom the chair is intended; and offering only the office chairs of the first species or the second species depending on the sex of the prospective user.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to a set of office chairs comprising a first species of office chair and a second species of office chair, wherein the chairs of both the first and the second species each comprise a pedestal to support the chair on a floor surface, a seat and a back rest.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PRIOR ART

[0002] In the state of the art a large number of structural designs for office chairs are known. The number of people who are engaged in sedentary office activities for several hours at a time is steadily increasing. At the same time, more health problems arise, as a result of spending several hours in a sitting posture.

[0003] Very many of the health problems are orthopedic in nature. However, there is also a danger that the health of soft tissues may be impaired, in particular the genitalia.

[0004] In the state of the art a plurality of office-chair constructions have been worked out for each kind of health problem, with the aim of avoiding the problem from the outset or at least making it less severe. A prerequisite for this is that the particular user of an office chair must know his specific health problem or at least the risk to his individual health.

[0005] In fact, however, large numbers of users of office chairs carry out their professional activities, often for many years, in a chair that is entirely wrong for them.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] The object of the present invention is to provide a set of office chairs that considerably reduces the risk that a user of office chairs will sit in a relatively unsuitable chair.

[0007] According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a set of office chairs comprising a first species of office chairs and a second species of office chairs, wherein the office chairs of both the first and the second species each comprise a pedestal to support the chair on a floor surface, a seat, and a back rest, the first species of office chairs differing from the second species of office chairs with respect to the construction of the seat such that the seat of the first species of office chairs is adapted to the male anatomy and the seat of the second species of office chairs is adapted to the female anatomy.

[0008] According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a method for the automated selection of office chairs from a set of office chairs according to the first aspect of the invention, comprising the steps of providing a set of office chairs that comprises at least one office chair belonging to the first species and at least one office chair belonging to the second species; asking the sex of the user for whom the chair is intended; and offering only the office chairs of the first species or the second species depending on the sex of the prospective user.

[0009] Hence, in each case it is no longer necessary to wait to choose the right chair until after an individual problem has developed; instead, out of a set of chairs the one that will presumably be suitable for large groups of users can be selected in advance.

[0010] With this invention, from now on large numbers of office-chair users can be prevented from unknowingly sitting for many years on chairs that do not have a sex-specific design suitable for them. In any case, in selecting an office chair one now has the opportunity to minimize considerably the risks to and impairment of health, merely by stating the sex of the future user of the chair.

[0011] In one advantageous embodiment, the office chairs of both the first and the second species have an identical pedestal. This feature on one hand reduces the manufacturing costs for the different chairs in a set. On the other hand, the two species have the same general appearance, so that the sex-specific modifications are not obvious from the pedestal. In an alternative embodiment, however, it is conceivable to take into consideration useful modifications that are also applicable to the pedestal. For example, in the case of a pedestal provided with a spring device, the spring characteristic could be adapted for use by women or by men.

[0012] Similarly, it is initially regarded as advantageous to provide the office chairs of the first species and the second species with identical back rests. Again, this measure reduces the manufacturing costs and ensures a uniform appearance. Nevertheless, the possibility should not be excluded that slight but useful sex-specific modifications could extend to the back rest. In some circumstances it could be advantageous for the lumbar part of the spine to be supported differently by the office chairs of the first species and the second species.

[0013] In accordance with the invention the main differences between an office chair of the first species and one of the second species resides in the construction of the seats. In a first variant the chairs of the first and second species each differ from the other species with respect to a front central region of the seat, a region specified as symmetrical with respect to the middle long axis (axis of symmetry of the office chair). This region is set back from the front edge of the seat, by about 12 to 25 cm, towards the back rest. Altogether the front central region extends for about 5 to 15 cm in all directions. In the front central region thus defined, in the case of an office chair of the first species measures should be taken to reduce or entirely avoid loads imposed on the genitalia, in particular the testicles of a male chair user. These measures can take various forms as far as the concrete technical design is concerned. For example, a complete recess or indentation can be made in the seat surface. Alternatively, a groove extending over a large region or an incision open towards the front or back edge of the seat can be provided. The desired effect can also be achieved by reducing the firmness of the padding here. Various possibilities can also be combined with one another, e.g. a recessed, less firm padding. In the case of an office chair of the second species, the seat surface in these regions can be made smooth.

[0014] Another advantageous way to design the seats differentially can be to provide a strip-like support region running across the back of the seat, transverse to the middle long axis (axis of symmetry). The vertebral column rests against this strip-like support region, as a result of which the posture of the pelvis can be altered in specific ways, by raising or lowering it. Because men have a considerably lower tendency toward pronounced curvature in the sacral region than do women, on average women need a lesser elevation of the pelvis. In individual cases a lowering can even be desirable.

[0015] In the case of an office chair of the first species, the strip-like support region at the back of the seat is preferably so constructed as to comprise a pelvic support that rises toward the back rest. Chairs of the second (female) species, in contrast, can have a strip-like support region that rises less steeply. If office chairs without an adjustable pelvic support are offered, a chair of the first species preferably comprises a pelvic support that rises more steeply than that of a chair of the second species. If the office chairs are equipped with an adjustable pelvic support, the adjustable region of a chair of the first species can be arranged differently from that of a chair of the second species. In an office chair of the first species, for example, the pelvic support can be changed between neutral (in the same plane as the front part of the seat surface) and a maximal upward slope MSA. In a chair of the second species, in contrast, the pelvic support could actually be brought into a position sloping down toward the back, and hence could be raised only to a position MSB that is less strongly sloping than MSA. Therefore here it would apply that the upward slope MSA is greater than the upward slope MSB.

[0016] Finally, it would also be reasonable for office chairs of the two species that are equipped with an adjustable pelvic support to be provided with different initial settings of the pelvic support or to provide a reset position, which in each case differs in a sex-specific manner, being steeper for men than for women.

[0017] The invention will now be described in greater detail, with respect to additional characteristics and advantages, by way of example and with reference to the attached drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0018] FIG. 1a is a perspective view of an embodiment of office chair belonging to the first species (A) of a set of office chairs; and

[0019] FIG. 1b is a perspective view of an embodiment of office chair belonging to the second species (B) of the same set of office chairs as shown in FIG. 1a.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0020] In FIGS. 1a and 1b is shown an embodiment of a set of office chairs, with one representative of an office chair of the first species (A) (FIG. 1a) and one representative of an office chair of the second species (B) (FIG. 1b). The chairs 11, 12 illustrated in FIGS. 1a and 1b, respectively, each comprise a pedestal 13, a back rest 15 and a differently constructed seat 14, 16. In the set of office chairs shown here, the back rests 15 are each identically constructed. The embodiment of a set of office chairs illustrated here shows that the chairs 11, 12 of the first species (A) and second species (B) differ from one another in a central region 17 as well as in a strip-like seat region 18.

[0021] The central region 17 is disposed in the front region of the seat 14, 16 so as to be symmetrical with respect to the long axis L and set slightly back from the front edge of the seat 14, 16, towards the seat back. In the exemplary embodiment shown here, the different configuration of the office chairs 11, 12 of the first species (A) and the second species (B) with respect to one another in the central region 17 comprises the formation of a groove 21 in the chair 11 of the first species. The groove 21 in the seat 14 of the chair 11 of the first species runs parallel to the middle long axis L and has the effect that when a male user is sitting in the normal position, no or at least considerably lower pressure forces act on his genitalia. In the office chair 12 of the second species (B), in contrast, the central region 17 is flush with the remainder of the front part of the seat 14; that is, here no special features are provided.

[0022] Another difference between the office chairs 11, 12 of the first species (A) and the second species (B) of the exemplary embodiment of a set of office chairs illustrated here is that the strip-like support region is differently designed, at least the original settings are different or it can be differently adjusted. The strip-like support region extends at about right angles to the middle long axis and closes off the seat 14, 16 at its back in each case. In the office chair 11 of the first species (A) the strip-like support region is tilted slightly upward toward the back rest, so that the back region of the surface of the seat rises toward the back rest. As a result, the pelvis of a male user is slightly raised, by an amount intended to improve the sitting position.

[0023] In contrast, an office chair 12 of the second species (B) has a pelvic support 20 that is flush with the remaining surface of the seat 16; that is, it is set to neither an ascending nor a descending slope. Furthermore, a wedge piece 22 that is present in the office chair 11 of the first species can be removed, so as to form an opening 19 for the coccyx of a female user.

[0024] The seats 14, 16 of the office chairs 11, 12 of the first species (A) and the second species (B) can additionally differ from one another in the way they are upholstered. For example, the seat 14 of a chair 11 of the first species (A) could have a harder padding than a seat 16 of a chair 12 of the second species (B). It can also be useful to make the seat 16 of a chair 12 of the second species (B) shorter than a seat 14 of a chair 11 of the first species (A), because female users are particularly likely to sit very far forward on existing office chairs according to the state of the art, so as to avoid a long contact region between the chair and the underside of the thigh. This often happens unconsciously, but it can also be intentional in view of the possibility that otherwise negative influences on the blood vessels, in particular the veins, might be produced.

[0025] Altogether, the present invention is based on the realization that at least in the statistical mean, men and women differ considerably in the demands they place on an office chair.

[0026] The invention is ultimately based on the realization that considerable risks to or impairments of health can be avoided merely by producing office chairs that are clearly designed for male users or for female users. In this regard the invention travels a completely different path than the efforts that have previously been made according to the state of the art. Whereas conventionally a user had to identify in detail his or her requirements, risks and possible health problems and make a statement to that effect where necessary, i.e. when selecting an office chair or being assigned a chair in an office, and then achieved a tailor-made solution only in rare individual cases, the present invention is now going in an entirely different direction. That is, it is based on the facts that very few users know enough about their particular seating requirements, and that during the process of selecting or being assigned an office chair the user's requirements are not taken into account.

[0027] In contrast, the idea behind this invention allows health risks or problems to be reduced or avoided in a large number of cases, because an office chair adapted to the sex-specific needs of the user is made available from the outset. Thus a male user in future need no longer spend his several hours of office activity per day seated on a chair designed for the female anatomy. Similarly, in future a female user need no longer be seated on a chair that is uncomfortable and problematic for her health because it is tailored for the male anatomy.

[0028] The acceptance of office chairs can be quite generally be further enhanced by weight-monitoring and/or weight-reducing measures. These measures are claimed as an invention per se, independent of or in combination with the set of office chairs described above.

[0029] In a first embodiment the seat is movable within narrow limits, preferably in a pendulum-type suspension. As a result, rocking movements or efforts to bring the body's center of gravity near the abdomen stimulate the user's circulation and digestion. Thus the enforced lack of movement associated with sitting can be partially compensated, and in the ideal case a weight decrease during sitting can be achieved.

[0030] In another supplementary or alternative embodiment a scale can be integrated, for example, into the pedestal. The measurements made by this scale can be signalled, for instance by acoustical or optical means, stored or used as a parameter on which other processes can be based.