Title:
Modular transformable furniture system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A single piece of furniture that is convertible to a number of different pieces of furniture, including a chair, desk, table and bed, shelves, and many other furniture types. This single piece of furniture fulfills many needs with its multiple uses and different styles while at the same time being cost efficient, space saving, and ergonomically adjustable. Currently, most home and office furniture serves a single use: chairs for sitting, beds for sleeping, shelving for storage, desks and tables for work surfaces, etc. There are a few dual-use pieces of furniture in common use, such as futons and fold-out beds which allow a couch to be converted to a bed. This is the limitation of their utility. The Modular, Transformable Furniture System is cost effective because a person or household only needs one piece of furniture to serve many needs. It is ideal for college students, budget-conscious, or nomadic people and people living in apartments with space constraints. Each element of the frame is integral and non-unique making it easy to manufacture, assemble, disassemble, ship and store, saving space and cost and adding to its utility. The Modular, Transformable Furniture System can replace not only many different types of useful and aesthetically pleasing couches and chairs and beds, but also desks, tables and shelves. Indeed, four of these infinitely adjustable pieces of furniture are all that is needed to provide the simple furniture necessary for a small apartment: a bed, a chair, a table and shelves.



Inventors:
Kawiaka, Karolina (Windham, VT, US)
Application Number:
10/153998
Publication Date:
11/27/2003
Filing Date:
05/23/2002
Assignee:
KAWIAKA KAROLINA
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B13/00; A47C13/00; A47C19/00; (IPC1-7): A47C13/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
EDELL, JOSEPH F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Karolina Kawiaka (Windham, VT, US)
Claims:

What I claim is:



1. A furniture apparatus, comprising: A. a plurality of sections each section having uniform dimensions such that each section has a plurality of functions dependent on the orientation and position relative to other sections. B. a series of hinged joints that connect said sections to one another to form a single continuous piece, said hinged joints being fixable and lockable such that said sections are lockable to fixed positions by operation of said joints, relative to at least one other section, whereby said joints lock said sections into place to form a plurality of furniture forms that are strong enough to support an average human of typical body weight and size.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said furniture forms include a chair, a bed, and a table.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the range of motion for said sections respective to another sections is substantially 360 degrees less tolerances due to physical dimensions of adjacent sections.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the sections have about 12 fixable and lockable hinge positions relative to each adjacent section such that a full range of positions for the said plurality of sections is possible, at a desirable interval, substantially 360 degrees.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the degree of change of said sections relative to adjacent sections is fixable and lockable at an interval of about 30 degrees, which is found to be a desirable angle of adjustment.

6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein another function of the sections is that of supporting or of engaging a load to be supported.

7. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein one or more of said sections may comprise a plurality of functions.

8. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein at least one function of said sections is that of a leg of a piece of furniture and the remaining sections act to support the human body.

9. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein said joints are of a structure and design so that they fix and lock said sections into position so that the load to be supported is leveraged substantially such that it is supported.

10. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein the number of said joints that fix and lock said sections into position is chosen to optimize the leveraging of said load such that the load is supported.

11. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein the dimensions and relationships of said sections are chosen to optimize the leveraging of said load such that the load is supported.

12. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein the dimensions and relationships of said joints between said sections are chosen to optimize the leveraging of said load such that the load is supported.

13. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein wood, plastic or metal panels may be attached to said sections to provide a stable surface.

14. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein a cushion may be attached to said sections to provide added ergonomic comfort to the user.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] Not Applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] This invention is related to furniture, specifically to a single piece of furniture that is convertible to a number of different pieces of furniture, including a chair, table, bed, shelves, and many other furniture types.

[0003] Currently, most home and office furniture serves a single use: chairs for sitting, desks and tables for work surfaces, beds for sleeping, shelving for storage, etc. With a few exceptions, home and office furniture cannot be re-used or transformed to serve a number of uses in more than one aesthetic style.

[0004] While the creation of single-use furniture is well-known, novel furniture innovations are still being developed even to this day. In particular, the field of creating furniture for a plurality of uses is still a wide-open field of development. Some single-use furniture types do have some minor flexibility of use within the larger constraint of serving as a single type of furniture, for instance cabinets with adjustable height shelves.

[0005] Currently the best the state of the art for multi-purpose furniture have been sofa beds (L. Williams, U.S. Pat. No. 835,770, 1906), futons with folding supports (R. L. Withers, U.S. Pat. No. 5,129,114, 1992), and reclining chairs (J. Lewis and R. Randen U.S. Pat. No. D454,704, 2001). These previous attempts at providing multiple use furniture are severely limited in the types of furniture that can be created from a single piece of furniture. This limitation is due to an inherently flawed design structure that is based on furniture serving only a few specific uses. The sofa bed, futons with folding supports, and reclining chairs have a fixed number (two) uses and positions due to design objectives. For example, the sofa bed, reclining chair, and futon with folding supports are limited to only to a bed or seat. None of these pieces of furniture has the flexibility to become many different types of furniture providing many different functions. Rather, the futon with folding supports or reclining chairs still remain a bed or chair merely being arranged as such. That is, they do not form distinctly different pieces of furniture, but, rather a bed folded in half or a chair reclined.

[0006] Another disadvantage of the previous attempts is that extraneous portions of the furniture must be added in order to adjust or reposition the portions in order to create the limited forms. These parts can easily be broken off and damaged rendering the furniture useless. For example, a reclining chairs requires a special handle to adjust the angle of the back relative to the seat, and lounge chairs and futons use slats or attached legs to hold them up. Thus, the adjusting feature requires additional appendages not integral to the frame of the furniture.

[0007] Another disadvantage is style. Previous attempts at convertible furniture are only capable of one style. For instance, the reclining chair is not capable of changing style or appearance.

[0008] Single or dual-use pieces of furniture serving limited functions are relatively much more expensive because once their function is no longer needed they are discarded, for instance if the use of a particular style chair might not be aesthetically desired or ergonomically correct. The economic cost and impact on the environment of manufacturing wood and other materials, and of discarding furniture with limited utility in landfills, is large. Most furniture not in use is stored in attics or basements taking up a great deal of space.

[0009] Most furniture is shipped fully assembled, which takes more space and therefore creates larger transportation costs, rather than being shipped disassembled or flat.

OBJECTS AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0010] What is needed is a multi-purpose piece of furniture having a design concept flexible enough to form truly distinct pieces of furniture, that utilizes an efficient arrangement of resilient components which are connected into a single continuous piece without the addition of extraneous appendages or attachments, that has an enduring aesthetic appeal by virtue of its multiple arrangements, and which can be transported and stored in a compact form.

[0011] The present invention is a multiple-use piece of furniture that eliminates the need for many different types of furniture and does not suffer from the forgoing disadvantages. The present invention can also be characterized as a modular transformable furniture system that includes a simple set of components that are joined in relation to one another in a multitude of configurations to form individual pieces of furniture including, but are not limited to, a straight-backed chair, reclining chair, rocking chair, bed, table desk, bookcase, ladder, etc. Thus, by providing a unique arrangement of components, there is provided a single piece of furniture that truly forms distinct, multiple types of furniture.

OBJECTS AND ADVANTAGES

[0012] Accordingly, several objects and advantages of the Modular, Transformable Furniture System are:

[0013] a) It is easily adjustable into numerous furniture forms that fulfill numerous needs in daily life including a chair, bed, table, desk, bookcase, ladder, etc. Indeed, four of these infinitely adjustable pieces of furniture are all that is needed to provide the simple furniture necessary for a small apartment: a bed, a chair, a table and shelves.

[0014] b) Because this Modular, Transformable Furniture System can be reconfigured and it's joints are made of resilient metal, it is easily ‘recycled’ into new forms, making it economical due to its long life of service and therefore saving natural resources used in the manufacture of replacement furniture and preventing waste due to its extended usefulness.

[0015] c) The Modular, Transformable Furniture System is designed to serve many different uses furniture provides. When a specific furniture item is no longer needed, such as a chair, the frame is readily reconfigured. More importantly, the piece of furniture no longer needed can be used effectively instead of sitting idle in storage. For example, if a guest arrives, a chair can be transformed into an extra bed, complete with cushion.

[0016] d) Each element of the frame is integral and non-unique making it easy to manufacture. However, since the relationship of each of the parts to one another is changeable by the user, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Each individual piece has no specific function alone, but together they can fulfill many functions without needing extraneous structural elements which may be expensive and easily broken.

[0017] e) It is cost effective because a person or household only needs one piece of furniture to serve many needs. It is ideal for college students, budget-conscious, or nomadic people and people living in apartments with space constraints. Multiple purpose furniture is ripe for innovation because there is a substantial need and market demonstrated for furniture that is cost effective and saves space.

[0018] f) It is ergonomically correct and comfortable because it can be changed into almost any furniture form needed and can be custom configured to each person's particular needs. Its length is changeable in increments of 6″ from 1′ to 8′ which fits an average human of typical body weight and size. In addition, multiple chairs can be joined together to make larger forms.

[0019] g) Another distinguishing feature of prior art is that the surface of the chair can be either wood, plastic, or metal, and a segmented cushion can be attached and used as desired and so the furniture can have many different styles and types of comfort.

[0020] h) Another distinguishing feature of prior art is that the form of the chair can fold flat for shipping or storage as shown in FIG. 1F.

[0021] Further objects and advantages of the Modular, Transformable Furniture System will become apparent from a consideration of the drawings and ensuing description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

[0022] FIG. 1 is an isometric view of the Modular, Transformable Furniture System, constructed in accordance with the invention, showing how the relative position of the sections are adjusted by one section being lifted pulled upward roughly ½″ so that the hinge is disengaged and the angle can be adjusted between that section and the adjacent section.

[0023] FIG. 2 is an outside side view of a section of the piece of furniture in FIG. 1 laying flat.

[0024] FIG. 3 is a left-side view of the piece of furniture in FIG. 1 set up in various configurations as different types of chairs, a desk, a bed, a table, and as a shelf and steps.

[0025] FIG. 4A is an interior side view of the hinge assembly.

[0026] FIG. 4B is a top view of the hinge assembly.

[0027] FIG. 5 shows exploded view of hinge assembly.

LIST OF REFERENCE NUMERALS IN DRAWINGS

[0028] 6—Hinge Assembly

[0029] 6A—Hinge Bar

[0030] 6B,6C—Rounded Distal Ends

[0031] 6D—Bore in Distal End to receive Hinge Pin/Connecting Rod

[0032] 6E—Bores to receive Alignment Pins

[0033] 6F—Tapered Alignment Pins

[0034] 7A—Hinge Pin/Connecting Rod

[0035] 7B—Bores to attach Connecting Rods

[0036] 7C—Connecting Rods—Crosspieces to which the plastic, metal or wooden slats and cushions attach.

[0037] 7D—Nut

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0038] The following description is of the best mode presently contemplated for carrying out the invention. This description is not to be taken in a limiting sense, but is made merely for the purpose of describing the general principles of the invention. The scope of the invention should be determined with reference to the claims.

[0039] FIG. 1 shows an isometric view of the Modular, Transformable Furniture System.

[0040] The Modular, Transformable Furniture System is comprised of an articulated frame that can be reconfigured in a multitude of configurations to form a multitude of pieces of household and office furniture.

[0041] Now with reference to FIGS. 4 and 5, the components include a rigid frame comprised of substantially identical hinged sections (6). This lockable metal hinge provides the strength necessary to support the body weight of an average human of typical body weight-and size using the furniture, but also the flexibility to change the angle between adjacent sections and rigidly lock.

[0042] Now, in more detail, in one embodiment, each hinge assembly (6) comprises an elongated rigid bar (6A) having rounded distal ends (6B, 6C). At each distal end, there is provided a bore (6D) machined to have a longitudinal axis perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the hinge bar (6A) for receiving a threaded rod (7A) that acts as a hinge pin. Surrounding each bore (6D) in a concentric arrangement are machined a plurality of bores (6E) for receiving the tapered alignment pins (6F).

[0043] In between bores (6D), in one embodiment may be formed additional bores (7B) for receiving plain rods (7C) with threaded ends that are attached with nuts (7D) providing additional strength and rigidity. There may also be provided an indentation, comprising a section of material that is removed in order to provide strength to the hinge assembly (6) in thickness, yet reduced material to lessen its weight, thereby improving the portability and ease of configuration of the Modular Transformable Furniture System. The dimensions of the various components were experimented with and the dimensions yielding the most optimum strength and flexibility were selected.

[0044] In the preferred embodiment the rod bores (6D, 7) have a diameter of ⅜″, the rods (7A, 7C) a diameter of ⅜″, the tapered pins (6F) a diameter of {fraction (1/16)}″, and the hinge bar (6A) a thickness of ½″. While the dimensions of the preferred embodiment have been set forth above, it will be appreciated that the invention may be practiced with other dimensions.

[0045] The hinged assembles (6) of the articulated frame are joined to one another using a series of rigid crosspieces (7A) that connect the sidebars fixedly and, alternatively, serve as pivots for lockable hinge assemblies (6). These rigid crosspieces serve as interconnetion hardware through the use of bolts screwed onto the ends of the threaded ends of the rigid crosspieces. Ts interconnection hardware provides simple initial assembly, and furniture adjustment and transformation. This simple interconnection hardware also enables the frame to quickly be taken apart for storage

[0046] The rods (7A, 7C) are rigid crosspieces that can be covered in solid panels made out of wood, steel, or plastic, and an optional cushion that can be attached in response to ergonomic or aesthetic needs.

[0047] The hinged sections can be pivoted relative to one another on the crosspieces (7A, 7C) and then rigidly locked into position using tapered alignment pins (6F).

[0048] Each element that makes up an adjustable, lockable pivoting hinge and crosspieces of the Modular Transformable Furniture System are discussed in more detail in the paragraphs that follow.

[0049] The uniform nature of the slats and joints allow the piece of furniture to be formed into many different furniture types and therefore a non-specific function.

[0050] Alternative embodiments of the hinge include using grooves or screw mechanisms instead of pins that allow the hinge to rotate and then lock around the fixed bar/hinge pin (7A).

[0051] In operation, one uses the Modular Transformable Furniture System in the normal manner of a chair, table, bed, etc. When one wants to change the form of the furniture one simply removes the cushion, if it is attached, and turns the furniture on its side to change its profile to the desired piece of furniture by adjusting the angle between the sections (FIG. 2).

[0052] The relative positions of the hinged assemblies (6) are adjusted by turning the frame on its side and then lifting one section vertically by pulling it upward roughly ½″ so that the tapered alignment pins (6F) are disengaged allowing the angle to be adjusted between adjacent hinged assemblies (6). Once the desired position is obtained (in 30 degree increments) the section is then pushed down so the pins engage and the hinge assembly is locked in relation to the adjacent hinge assemblies. This is repeated for every other (alternating) hinge assembly as necessary for the furniture to acquire the desired profile and shape. The furniture is then turned upright, and the cushion is re-attached where and if desired.

[0053] Through extensive experimentation it was found that tapered alignment pins are needed to seat the pins tightly in their holes and thereby provide the necessary strength and rigidity so that multiple joints will have the strength to support the cantilevered load.

[0054] Through trial and error it was found that the optimal angle of ergonomic adjustment is 30 degrees, although this can be adjusted by changing the spacing of the holes that receive the tapered alignment pins (6F) when the hinge is manufactured. Only one tapered alignment pin is needed in each joint due to the high shear strength of the hardened steel pins and the fact that the hinge pin/connecting rods (7A) are used as hinge pins to align the ends of the hinges. Two pins are used in each joint to provide extra strength.

[0055] It has also been discovered through experimentation that the number of hinged assemblies (6) has been found to be determinable. The optimal length of the hinged assemblies (from the center line of each hinge pin/connecting rod, 7A) was found to be 6″ as this length provides the needed flexibility for the piece of furniture to be adjusted into many different forms and to be finely adjusted to provide a comfortable and ergonomic profile for the user.

CONCLUSION, RAMIFICATIONS, AND SCOPE OF INVENTION

[0056] Thus the reader will see that the Modular, Transformable Furniture System provides a highly functional, adjustable, yet economical piece of furniture that can be used by persons of almost any age in many ways.

[0057] While the above description contains many specifics, these should not be construed as limitations on the scope of the invention, but rather as an exemplification of one preferred embodiment thereof. Many other variations are possible: for example, the hinges can be different sizes, materials and shapes and utilize diverse locking mechanisms such as grooves or screws, etc. to adjust the relative positions of the slats and lock; the relative angle of change can be easily modified; and the slats can be can be different lengths and widths made out of and covered with many different materials.

[0058] Accordingly, the scope of the invention should be determined not by the embodiments illustrated, but by the appended claims and their legal equivalents.