Title:
Decorative Configurable Drink Coaster
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A configurable drinking coaster combination includes at least one pair of coasters adapted for individual placement on a furniture surface to protect the furniture from a drinking glass or cup placed on the coaster. Each pair of coasters is configured for interlocking engagement so that the pair of coasters can form a decorative three-dimensional accent piece when the coasters are not in use to support a drinking vessel. In one embodiment, a collection of substantially identically configured coasters have an identical perimeter, such as circular, rectangular or triangular, and each defines a substantially identically sized and arranged slot so that when the coasters are interlockingly engaged at the slots the perimeters of the coasters coincide in the three-dimensional accent piece configuration.



Inventors:
Willy, Scott (Carmel, IN, US)
Application Number:
11/670567
Publication Date:
08/07/2008
Filing Date:
02/02/2007
Assignee:
THE SIMPLE FURNITURE COMPANY (Indianapolis, IN, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G29/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SMITH, NKEISHA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MAGINOT, MOORE & BECK, LLP (INDIANAPOLIS, IN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A configurable drinking coaster combination comprising: a first coaster having a first thickness and first perimeter, said first coaster further defining a first slot extending from said perimeter, said first slot having a first width; and a second coaster having a second thickness and second perimeter, said second coaster further defining a second slot extending from said second perimeter, said second slot having a second width, wherein said first thickness and said second width, and said second thickness and said first width are sized so that said first and second coasters may be interlockingly engaged at said slots to form a decorative three-dimensional accent piece, and further wherein said first and second coasters include a first surface within said perimeter that is adapted to rest on the surface of an article of furniture and an opposite second surface that is adapted to support a drinking vessel thereon.

2. The combination of claim 1, wherein said first and second coasters are identically configured.

3. The combination of claim 2, further comprising additional pairs of identically configured coasters.

4. The combination of claim 1, wherein at least one of said first and second perimeters is circular.

5. The combination of claim 1, wherein at least one of said first and second perimeters is rectangular.

6. The combination of claim 1, wherein at least one of said first and second perimeters is triangular.

7. The combination of claim 1, wherein said first and second dimensions are substantially identical and said first and second slots have substantially equal lengths.

8. The combination of claim 7, wherein said substantially equal lengths are at least half of said first and second dimensions.

9. The combination of claim 1, wherein at least said second surface of each of said coasters is decorative.

10. The combination of claim 9, wherein both said first and second surfaces of each of said coasters is decorative.

11. The combination of claim 1, further comprising additional pairs of coasters, each having slots configured for interlocking assembly of said pairs of coasters into a decorative three-dimensional accent piece.

Description:

BACKGROUND

The functional benefits of drink coasters are undeniable. In particular, coasters protect furniture that, unlike a kitchen or dining room table for instance, are not specifically designed to have a glass or cup placed directly on the surface. Furniture like coffee tables and end tables are usually intended to be decorative, which means that the surfaces are not specifically intended to handle moisture, minor spills or drips that invariably accompany the use of a glass or a cup.

In addition to the functional benefits, many coasters are themselves configured to have some decorative feature. For instance, certain decorative materials may be used, such as certain types of appropriately sealed wood, soapstone, leather, marbleized stones, etc. Some coasters include pictures on the exposed surface or embedded within a clear or translucent coaster material. Other coasters are cut into identifiable shapes and others even include their own lighting.

However, all coasters, decorative or not, are limited to planar presentations. In other words, the coasters sit flat on the furniture surface (unless they are stored in a caddy or similar support frame). Thus, while a decorative coaster may add aesthetics when they are in use, the planar presentation is not really geared for continual display. First, the flat display provided by coasters has limited viewability—i.e., it is usually only possible to see the decorative feature of the coaster in the immediate proximity, and even then often only when looking down upon the coaster. Second, planar horizontal displays are just not the norm for most people. Other than rugs, decorative home furnishings have a vertical extent. Moreover, other than murals, tapestries and paintings that hang vertically, people expect decorative items to have a three-dimensional projection.

In addition, the planar coasters are either permanently left out on the furniture or are stored in some fashion. Many coaster sets include a rack or container in which the coasters are stacked. This storage is inherently unattractive. If it is desired to maintain a clean aesthetic appearance of living room, for instance, it is usually necessary to store the coasters in a drawer to be removed only when the coasters need to be used. Of course, many furniture items in a living room, drawing room, parlor, etc., do not incorporate a drawer of any kind. In this case, the coasters must be stored off-site or held in an unattractive storage rack or container.

DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a configurable coaster in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a top perspective view of two configurable coasters, according to the coaster shown in FIG. 1, being engaged to form a three-dimensional accent piece, in accordance with one aspect of the invention.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the three-dimensional accent piece formed as shown in FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an alternative configurable coaster and the three-dimensional accent piece formed by such coaster.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of yet another configurable coaster and the three-dimensional accent piece formed by such coaster.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a further configurable coaster.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of still another configurable coaster and the three-dimensional accent piece formed by such coaster.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

In order to address the ornamental or aesthetic deficiencies of prior art drink coaster, the present invention contemplates configurable coasters that may be assembled into a three-dimensional accent piece. Thus in one embodiment of the invention illustrated in FIGS. 1-3, a coaster 10 is provided with a slot 14 extending through the thickness t of the coaster. The end 15 of the slot terminates at least half way into the dimension D of the coaster. The slot 14 has a width W that is approximately equal to the thickness t.

The surface 12 of the coaster is adapted to support a drinking vessel, such as a glass or a cup. Thus, the surface 12 is preferably uniformly flat, although the perimeter of the surface may incorporate a rim, as is known of for some coasters. The surface 12 may include an absorbent layer to absorb condensation that may form on and drip down the side of the glass or cup. The opposite surface 13 may include a material compatible with the furniture surface on which the coaster 10 is supported. Preferably, the opposite surface includes a layer or coating that eliminates or at least reduces the risk of scratching the furniture surface when the coaster 10 is placed on the furniture. The layer or coating on surface 13 may exhibit resistance to sliding.

In accordance with the present invention, pairs of these coasters 10 are provided. The slot 14 in each coaster 10 allows the pairs of coasters to interlock as depicted in FIGS. 2-3. In particular, two such coasters 10 are pushed together with their respective slots 14 aligned until the ends 15 abut and the non-slotted portion 19 of each coaster is situated within the slot of the other coaster. The length of the slots 14 are sized so that when the ends 15 abut, the perimeters 17 of the coasters 10 coincide, as illustrated in FIG. 3. The slots may be slightly longer than necessary for the ends 15 to abut, although free play between the interlocking coasters is less desirable. As indicated above, the width W of the slot 14 is approximately equal to the thickness t of the coaster. This relationship ensures a snug fit when the two coasters are interlocked. If one or both of the surfaces 12 and 17, or the entire coaster 10 itself, are formed of a compressible material, the width W may be slightly less than the thickness t. Alternatively, the slot 14 and the non-slotted portion 19 of the coaster aligned with the slot may form a stepped dado arrangement. In this arrangement, the non-slotted portion 19 has a reduced thickness relative to the overall thickness t of the coaster. The width W of the slot 14 may then be less than the overall thickness t but approximately equal to the reduced thickness in the non-slotted portion 19. This arrangement will present a slightly different appearance at the intersection between the perimeters 17 of the interlocked coasters 10.

As shown in FIG. 3, when the two coasters 10 are interlocked they create a three-dimensional structure. Not only is this structure decorative, it is also functional since it effectively stows the coasters until their services are required. The coasters 10 may be formed of a material that is inherently decorative, such as a rich wood or stone. Alternatively, the exposed surfaces 12, 13 and 17 may be provided with a surface texture or color. The surface characteristics may vary among pairs or collections of coasters. For instance, four coasters 10 may be provided that are in four different colors. It is then possible to mix and match the colors to change the appearance of the resulting accent piece when the coasters are interlocked. Similarly, each coaster may have different surface treatments on half of each surface. The surface treatments may be complementary between surfaces facing each other in the interlocked configuration shown in FIG. 3. For instance, the two facing surface shown in FIG. 3 may have the same color or may combine to form a continuous image.

It can be appreciated that the circular configuration of the coaster 10 allows all coasters in a collection to be identical (absent variations in surface treatment). As shown in FIG. 2, all that is needed to interlock the coasters 10 is to orient one with the slot 14 facing downward and the other with the slot facing upward.

Other configurations of the decorative configurable coaster of the present invention are contemplated. For example, coasters 20 may be square or rectangular, as shown in FIG. 4. The slot 21 may be centrally positioned between the side edges of the coaster, or may be offset to one side to present an asymmetric appearance as shown in FIG. 4. Like the circular coaster 10, a collection of coasters 20 may be provided, all having the same configuration.

A triangular or truncated triangular shape is depicted in FIG. 5. The coasters 30 and 35 are interlocking, which means that the mating slots 31 and 36 must emanate from opposite corresponding edged 32 and 37. Thus, unlike the circular and rectangular configurations, the triangular coasters 30 and 35 are not uniform—each pair of interlocking coasters requires a coaster 30 and a different coaster 35.

A rounded rectangular coaster 40 is illustrated in FIG. 6. In this embodiment, the interlocking slot may be aligned parallel and perpendicular with the side edges of the coaster, such as the slot 41′. Alternatively, the slot may be defined at one of the corners, such as the slot 41″. It can be appreciated that interlocking coasters 40 with slots 41′ will present a different aesthetic appearance than those with slots 41″. It is understood that a collection of coasters 40 may all have one or the other of the slots 41′ or 41″, or the collection may include some coasters with the slot 41′ and some with the slot 41″. Certainly, combining two coasters with differently aligned slots will result in a more unique visual impression.

Since the coasters of the present invention are configured to be stowed in their ornamental interlocking accent piece arrangement, there is no need for a separate container to hold the coasters when not in use. Moreover, the coasters may be “mixed and matched”, meaning that coasters having different surface treatments or even different shapes may be combined to create an ever-changing ornamental appearance. As an ornamental accent piece, the interlocked coasters will always be at hand for use or easy to interlock to for “storage”.

While the invention has been illustrated and described in detail in the drawings and foregoing description, the same should be considered as illustrative and not restrictive in character. It is understood that only the preferred embodiments have been presented and that all changes, modifications and further applications that come within the spirit of the invention are desired to be protected.

For instance, each of the coasters in the illustrated embodiments include a single slot, such as slot 14 in coaster 10. However multiple slots may be provided to increase the range of combinations of interlocking coasters. In the case of multiple slot coasters, more than two coasters would be combined to form the decorative accent piece. Using the rectangular coaster 20 as an example, a modified coaster 50 may include two slots 51, 52 offset toward the opposite side edges, as shown in FIG. 7. Four similar configured coasters 50 may be interlocked to form an open-boxed shaped accent piece.

In the illustrated embodiments, the slots extend at least half way along a particular dimension of the coasters. Alternatively, pairs of coasters may have one coaster in which the slot extends less than halfway, while slot in the other coaster extends more than half way along the dimension. The lengths of the two slots are complementary so that when the two coasters interlock their respective perimeters are generally contiguous. In yet another alternative, the lengths of the slots are not calibrated to ensure uniformity of the perimeter of the interlocked coasters, but instead are modified to present a non-uniform and perhaps more unique sculptural appearance.





 
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