Title:
Personalized raised-relief inlay
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A customized unit of furniture comprising: (a) a base furnishing including at least one of a projection and a recess; and (b) an inlay incorporating a customized indicia, with at least a portion of the inlay including at least one of a corresponding recess and a corresponding projection to engage at least one of the projection and recess of the furnishing to permanently mount the panel to the furnishing. The invention also includes a method of distributing customized furniture comprising: (a) offering a plurality of furnishings for sale; (b) offering a customized inlay to be permanently mounted to an unfinished furnishing to form at least one of the plurality of furnishings; and (c) selling at least one of the plurality of furnishings with the customized inlay, where the customized inlay includes a visible face incorporating a customized indicia.



Inventors:
Isaac, Terry L. (Medina, OH, US)
Application Number:
11/507380
Publication Date:
04/03/2008
Filing Date:
08/21/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C7/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHEN, JOSE V
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP (Indianapolis, IN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A customized unit of furniture comprising: a base furnishing including at least one of a projection and a recess; and an inlay incorporating a customized indicia, with at least a portion of the inlay including at least one of a corresponding recess and a corresponding projection to engage at least one of the projection and recess of the furnishing to permanently mount the panel to the furnishing.

2. The customized unit of furniture of claim 1, wherein the furnishing is at least one of a table, a display stand, a magazine rack, a bookcase, a chair, a chest, a cabinet, and a serving tray.

3. The customized unit of furniture of claim 1, wherein the customized indicia include a linguistic representation of at least one of a particular event, a particular person, or a particular message.

4. The customized unit of furniture of claim 1, wherein: the inlay includes a projection generally rectangular in cross-section; the furnishing includes a recess generally rectangular in cross-section; and the inlay at least partially occupies the recess using at least one of a compression fit, an adhesive, and a permanent fastener.

5. The customized unit of furniture of claim 1, wherein the inlay includes an exposed raised face comprising a generally planar surface with at least one edge of the planar surface being beveled to approximate the level of surface of the furnishing surrounding the recess.

6. The customized unit of furniture of claim 1, wherein the inlay includes an exposed raised face that overlaps any recess or projection of the furnishing so that no portion of the recess or projection is visible when the inlay is mounted to the furnishing.

7. The customized unit of furniture of claim 1, wherein the inlay is removably mounted to the furnishing.

8. The customized unit of furniture of claim 1, wherein the inlay includes a plurality of panels each incorporating a differing customized indicia, where each of the plurality of panels is permanently mounted to the furnishing.

9. A method of customizing furniture, the method comprising: mounting a customized inlay, having a customized indicia on a face of the inlay exposed to an objective observer, to a furnishing, where the customized inlay includes at least one of a recess and a projection that interfaces with at least one of a corresponding projection and a corresponding recess of the furnishing to permanently mount the inlay to the furnishing.

10. The method of claim 9, further comprising the act of fabricating the customized inlay to include a projection to be received within a recess of the furnishing.

11. The method of claim 9, wherein the act of fabricating the customized inlay includes forming the permanent indicia on the face of the customized inlay.

12. The method of claim 11, wherein the act of forming the permanent indicia includes the act of laser engraving the permanent indicia on the face of the customized inlay.

13. The method of claim 10, wherein the act of fabricating the customized inlay includes utilization of a rotating bit to form the projection.

14. The method of claim 9, wherein the permanent indicia includes a linguistic representation of at least one of a particular event, a particular person, and a particular message.

15. The method of claim 9, wherein the furnishing includes at least one of a table, a display stand, a magazine rack, a bookcase, a chair, a chest, a cabinet, and a serving tray.

16. A method of distributing customized furniture comprising: offering a plurality of furnishings for sale; offering a customized inlay to be permanently mounted to an unfinished furnishing to form at least one of the plurality of furnishings; and selling at least one of the plurality of furnishings with the customized inlay, where the customized inlay includes a visible face incorporating a customized indicia.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein the customized indicia include a linguistic representation of at least one of a particular event, a particular person, or a particular message.

18. The method of claim 16, further comprising: electronically receiving instructions of a customer as to the customized indicia to be incorporated with the customized inlay; and mounting the customized inlay to the unfinished furnishing.

19. The method of claim 16, wherein: the act of offering the plurality of furnishings for sale is performed electronically; and the act of offering the customized inlay to be mounted to the unfinished furnishing is performed electronically.

20. The method of claim 16, further comprising the act of providing an electronic data input for a customer to input at least a portion of the customized indicia.

21. A method of distributing customized furniture comprising: receiving a unit of furniture in component parts from a supplier; customizing at least one of the component parts in response to a particular consumer request; assembling the component parts to permanently incorporate the customized component part as an integral part of a customized furnishing; and supplying the customer with the customized furnishing in satisfaction of the particular consumer request.

Description:

RELATED ART

Field of the Invention

The present invention is directed to customized furnishings and, more specifically, to customized furnishings with customized indicia that may include personalized messages.

SUMMARY

The present invention includes methods of customizing units of furniture and the resulting customized furniture. In exemplary form, a customized raised-relief inlay includes some unique, character specific, or customer specific indicia that is incorporated to the unit of furniture to personalize the furniture and provide a classy, elegant appearance. While not required, an inlay fabricated from the same material as the unit of furniture allows for a seamless incorporation of the customized indicia into the unit of furniture without detracting from the appearance of the furniture. Thus, as time progresses, the original owner, as well as those who follow, will be reminded of the commemorative events surrounding the initial receipt of the furniture and the circumstances corresponding to the personalized indicia.

It is a first aspect of the present invention to provide a customized unit of furniture comprising: (a) a base furnishing including at least one of a projection and a recess; and (b) an inlay incorporating a customized indicia, with at least a portion of the inlay including at least one of a corresponding recess and a corresponding projection to engage at least one of the projection and recess of the furnishing to permanently mount the inlay panel to the furnishing.

In a more detailed embodiment of the first aspect, the furnishing is at least one of a table, a display stand, a magazine rack, a bookcase, a chair, a chest, a cabinet, and a serving tray. In yet another more detailed embodiment, the customized indicia include a linguistic representation of at least one of a particular event, a particular person, or a particular message. In a further detailed embodiment, the panel inlay includes a projection generally rectangular in cross-section, the furnishing includes a recess generally rectangular in cross-section and, the inlay at least partially occupies the recess using at least one of a compression fit, an adhesive, and a permanent fastener. In still a further detailed embodiment, the inlay includes an exposed raised face comprising a generally planar surface with at least one edge of the planar surface being beveled to approximate the level of surface of the furnishing surrounding the recess. In a more detailed embodiment, the inlay includes an exposed raised face that overlaps any recess or projection of the furnishing so that no portion of the recess or projection is visible when the inlay is mounted to the furnishing. In a more detailed embodiment, the inlay is permanently or removably mounted to the furnishing. In another more detailed embodiment, the inlay includes a plurality of panels each incorporating a differing customized indicia, where each of the plurality of panels is permanently mounted to the furnishing.

It is a second aspect of the present invention to provide a method of customizing furniture, the method comprising mounting a customized inlay, having a customized indicia on a face of the inlay exposed to an objective observer, to a furnishing, where the customized inlay includes at least one of a recess and a projection that interfaces with at least one of a corresponding projection and a corresponding recess of the furnishing to permanently mount the inlay to the furnishing.

In a more detailed embodiment of the second aspect, the method further comprises the act of fabricating the customized inlay to include a projection to be received within a recess of the furnishing. In yet another more detailed embodiment, the act of fabricating the customized inlay includes forming the permanent indicia on the face of the customized inlay. In a further detailed embodiment, the act of forming the permanent indicia includes the act of engraving the permanent indicia on the face of the customized inlay. In still a further detailed embodiment, the act of fabricating the customized inlay includes utilization of a rotating bit to form the projection. In a more detailed embodiment, the permanent indicia includes a linguistic representation of at least one of a particular event, a particular person, and a particular message. In a more detailed embodiment, the furnishing includes at least one of a table, a display stand, a magazine rack, a bookcase, a chair, a chest, a cabinet, and a serving tray.

It is a third aspect of the present invention to provide a method of distributing customized furniture comprising: (a) offering a plurality of furnishings for sale; (b) offering a customized inlay to be permanently mounted to an unfinished furnishing to form at least one of the plurality of furnishings; and (c) selling at least one of the plurality of furnishings with the customized inlay, where the customized inlay includes a visible face incorporating a customized indicia.

In a more detailed embodiment of the third aspect, the customized indicia include a linguistic representation of at least one of a particular event, a particular person, or a particular message. In yet another more detailed embodiment, the method further comprises, but is not limited to, electronically receiving instructions of a customer as to the customized indicia to be incorporated with the customized inlay, and mounting the customized inlay to the unfinished furnishing. In a further detailed embodiment, the act of offering the plurality of furnishings for sale can be performed electronically and, the act of offering the customized inlay to be mounted to the unfinished furnishing can be performed electronically. In still a further detailed embodiment, the method further comprises the act of providing an electronic data input for a customer to input at least a portion of the customized indicia.

It is a fourth aspect of the present invention to provide a method of distributing customized furniture comprising: (a) receiving a unit of furniture in component parts from a supplier; (b) customizing at least one of the component parts in response to a particular consumer request; (c) assembling the component parts to permanently incorporate the customized component part as an integral part of a customized furnishing; and (d) supplying the customer with the customized furnishing in satisfaction of the particular consumer request.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an overhead view of an exemplary end table fabricated in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a frontal view of the exemplary end table of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a profile view of the exemplary end table of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the exemplary end table taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged view of the isolated area A of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a frontal view of an exemplary customized inlay panel of the exemplary end table of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 is an overhead view of the exemplary customized inlay panel of FIG. 6; and

FIG. 8 is a profile view of the exemplary customized inlay panel of FIG. 6.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The exemplary embodiments of the present invention are described and illustrated below to encompass methods of customizing furnishings as well as the resulting furnishings incorporating customized indicia. Of course, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that the preferred embodiments discussed below are exemplary in nature and may be reconfigured without departing from the scope and spirit of the present invention. However, for clarity and precision, the exemplary embodiments as discussed below may include optional steps, methods, and features that one of ordinary skill should recognize as not being a requisite to fall within the scope of the invention.

Referencing FIGS. 1-4, an exemplary unit of furniture, such as a wooden occasional table 10, is fabricated from conventional techniques. The table 10 includes four legs 12 vertically oriented and spaced apart in a rectangular pattern. The lower portion 14 of each leg 12 is mounted to a horizontal support 16, having a bridging support 18 running between the horizontal supports. Adjacent sides 26, 28 of each leg 12 are mounted to a pair of corresponding facial apron panels 30, 32, 34, 36 concurrently mounted to the underside 22 of a table top 24. Two of the facial panels 32, 36 include two corresponding rectangular routed recesses 42, 44 that are each adapted to receive a corresponding customized, raised-relief inlay 46.

Each customized, raised-relief inlay 46 may include an indicia 48 integrally formed on the face 50 of the inlay. The indicia 48 may include various types of personalized messages signifying a particular event, a particular person, a particular location, or a particular message. Exemplary indicia include messages such as, without limitation, “Happy 18th Birthday John Doe,” “Jane Doe/Senior Partner/McCoy & Company,” “John & Jane Doe/Married/2006,” “John Doe/Attorney at Law,” “John & Jane Doe/San Francisco/California.” Opposite the face 50 of the inlay 46 is a rectangular rabbeted projection 52 that is received within one of the routed recesses 42, 44 so that the face of the inlay is visible when the projection 52 is inserted into one of the routed recesses 42, 44.

In this exemplary embodiment, each recess 42, 44 is routed from each facial apron panel 32, 36 of the table 10. The dimensions of the recesses 42, 44 are not necessarily unitarily fixed and may be varied to accommodate the dimensions of various projections 52. In exemplary form, each recess 42, 44 has dimensions of 1.31″ in width,

4.31″ in length, and 0.188″ in depth. The dimensions of each projection 52 are very

similar to those of their corresponding recess 42, 44, and in exemplary form are 1.25″ in width, 4.25″ in length, and 0.125″ in depth.

Exemplary dimensions for the other components of the exemplary table 10 include (length×width×height): table top 24 (16″×24″×0.75″); legs 12 (23.25″×1.75″ (tapering to 1.25″)×1.75″ (tapering to 1.25″)); short facial panels 32, 36 (10.50″×4.0″×0.75″); long facial panels 30, 34 (18.50″×4.0″×0.75″); horizontal supports 16 (10.50″×1.75″×0.75″); and, bridging support 18 (19.50″×1.625″×0.75″).

It is to be understood, however, that other dimensions could likewise be utilized in place of the aforementioned dimensions for the exemplary components of the table 10. By way of example, and not limitation, the recesses 42, 44 could be dimensioned to have a length of 1.06″, a width of 3.56″, and a depth of 0.188″. Likewise, the projections 52 could be dimensioned to have a length of 1.0″, a width of 3.5″, and a depth of 0.125″. In sum, those of ordinary skill will readily discern the obvious variations in dimensions that may be imparted to any of the aforementioned exemplary table 10 components.

The instant invention also includes a method of ordering one or more units of furniture and having one or more of its component pieces customized. A first exemplary method includes fabricating a unit of furniture using various preexisting patterns or designs, customizing a component inlay to the unit of furniture in response to a consumer or supplier request, and supplying the consumer or supplier with the customized unit of furniture in satisfaction of a previous request. A second exemplary method includes fabricating a unit of furniture using various preexisting patterns or designs, supplying the unit of furniture to a supplier in at least two component parts, customizing at least one of the component parts in response to a particular consumer request, assembling the component parts to incorporate the customized part(s) as an integral unit of furniture, and supplying the customer with the customized unit of furniture in satisfaction of a previous request.

Implementing the first exemplary method includes providing a furniture catalog in electronic or tangible form that displays various units of furniture 10 such as tables, display stands, serving trays, magazine racks, bookcases, chairs, chests, cabinets, etc. Each of these available furnishings includes a routed recess 42, 44 capable of accepting a rabbeted projection 52 from a customized inlay 46 to mount the customized inlay 46 to the furnishing. A consumer then purchases one or more of the furnishings 10 and indicates what indicia 48 should be associated with the inlay 46. The retailer records this information concerning the indicia 48 requested by the consumer for customization of the inlay 46. In first exemplary variation, the retailer fabricates the base furnishing and the inlays 46 at a single location and combines the customized inlays 46 with the base furnishing prior to shipment of the customized unit of furniture to the customer. In a second exemplary variation, the information from the retailer is submitted to an off-site manufacturer, who, in turn, fabricates the unit of furniture 10 with the permanently mounted inlays 46 prior to shipment of the customized unit of furniture to the retailer or end customer.

It is also within the scope of first exemplary method that the customized units of furniture are ordered by consumers on-line via the Internet, by email, by facsimile, or by telephone. Order forms or other furnishing request information may be obtained electronically or in paper form via the Internet, by email, by facsimile, by catalog, or other means. Exemplary order forms allow consumers to enter their personalized message or design to be associated with the inlay 46. An exemplary website may provide pictures and descriptions of the units of furniture available, in addition to an electronic entry blank. The electronic entry blank allows consumers to type in the personalized message that will be associated with the panel 46 and/or select from preexisting designs to customize the panel 46. Regardless of the means utilized to identify the personalized message or design, the personalized message or design may already be in electronic form or later transcribed into an art layout using a computer program. In any event, the message or design is engraved into the inlay 46 as requested by the customer and thereafter incorporated into the furnishing as an integral component.

Implementing the second exemplary method includes providing a furniture showroom that displays various units of furniture 10 such as tables, display stands, serving trays, magazine racks, bookcases, chairs, chests, cabinets, etc. Each of these units of furniture includes a recess 42 capable of accepting a projection 52 from a customized inlay 46 to mount the customized inlay 46 to the furnishing. A consumer then purchases one or more of the units of furniture 10 and then indicates what indicia 48 should be associated with the inlay 46. The retailer records this information concerning the indicia 48 requested by the consumer for either on-site customization of the inlay 46 or off-site customization of the inlay 46. In any event, indicia is engraved into the inlay 46 and permanently installed into the unit of furniture 10.

In each of the above discussed exemplary methods, inlays 46 may be fabricated completely separate from the base furnishing and thereafter joined with the base furnishing to comprise the customized unit of furniture. In other words, the base furnishing may be fabricated wholly separate from the inlays 46, where the panels are customized at a location not necessarily the same as that of the furnishing fabricator. It should be noted, however, that the base furnishing is not complete until the inlay is permanently installed. In other words, anyone looking at a base furnishing would realize that it is incomplete without the inlay installed.

While the aforementioned furnishings have been described with respect to wood or wood composites, the instant invention is not limited to these compositions of matter. Instead, the invention also is applicable to metal, stone, composites, and polymer furnishings. However, it is envisioned that the material comprising the inlay panel be the same as or substantially similar to the base furnishing to provide an integral, complementary appearance.

Following from the above description and invention summaries, it should be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that, while the methods and apparatuses herein described constitute exemplary embodiments of the present invention, the invention contained herein is not limited to this precise embodiment and that changes may be made to such embodiments without departing from the scope of the invention as defined by the claims. Additionally, it is to be understood that the invention is defined by the claims and it is not intended that any limitations or elements describing the exemplary embodiments set forth herein are to be incorporated into the interpretation of any claim element unless such limitation or element is explicitly stated. Likewise, it is to be understood that it is not necessary to meet any or all of the identified advantages or objects of the invention disclosed herein in order to fall within the scope of any claims, since the invention is defined by the claims and since inherent and/or unforeseen advantages of the present invention may exist even though they may not have been explicitly discussed herein.