Kind Code:

Non-architectural posts and beams of the kind used as cubicle backbone structures are now used to support open racks as skeletons for hanging diverse user-selected panels. The open racks have upright standards joined by spaced-apart transverse rails. A pair of brackets join an open rack to a beam. Each bracket has a beam gripping face and a rack gripping face. The rack gripping face has clefts that engage spaced-apart rails and have mass relief for light weight. Panels are freely hung on the rails and may be selected from whiteboards, bulletin boards, shelving, book cases and window panels for user personalization.

Devore, Terry (Newark, CA, US)
Application Number:
Publication Date:
Filing Date:
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
211/86.01, 248/214, 52/745.1
International Classes:
E04B2/74; A47B96/06; A47F5/00
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Primary Examiner:
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Law Offices of Thomas Schneck (SAN JOSE, CA, US)
What is claimed is:

1. Partitions for cubicles comprising: a post and beam backbone; and at least one open rack removably mounted on a beam, the rack having upright standards and a plurality of transverse, spaced-apart rails.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein each rack is mounted to a beam by a removable bracket.

3. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein each bracket has at least one cleft receiving a rail.

4. The apparatus of claim 3 wherein each bracket has two clefts receiving a pair of spaced-apart rails.

5. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein a plurality of free hanging panels each engage a rail.

6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said plurality of panels provide diverse user-customization opportunity.

7. The apparatus of claim 6 wherein said panels are selectable from whiteboards, tack boards, shelving, book cases, and slatwall panels.

8. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the post and beam backbone contains electrical and signal utilities.

9. The apparatus of claim 1 having first and second racks of different sizes.

10. The apparatus of claim 1 having back-to-back racks mounted on a beam.

11. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein each open rack comprises a pair of spaced apart standards joined by parallel spaced-apart rails.

12. The apparatus of claim 11 wherein the number of rails ranges between 3 and 7.

13. The apparatus of claim 11 wherein the number of rails is four.

14. The apparatus of claim 11 wherein the number of rails is five.

15. Separation partitions for cubicles comprising: spaced apart upright posts extending from a floor, with pairs of posts joined together by transverse beams; at least one open rack having spaced apart upright standards joined by parallel transverse rails, each rack having at least two brackets allowing removable joinder of that rack to a transverse beam; and a plurality of panels sized to span some of the space between parallel rails.

16. The apparatus of claim 15 wherein the spaced apart standards are hollow tubes.

17. The apparatus of claim 15 wherein the parallel transverse rails are hollow tubes.

18. The apparatus of claim 15 wherein each transverse beam has at least one transverse slot associated with the beam.

19. The apparatus of claim 15 wherein each bracket has opposed faces, including a rack gripping face and a beam gripping face, the rack gripping face having a cleft engaging the at least one rail, the beam gripping face having a tab slideably engaging a slot of a beam.

20. The apparatus of claim 15 wherein each bracket has mass relief portions.

21. A method of dividing space comprising: providing non-architectural posts and interconnecting beams as a cubicle backbone; providing skeletal user-mountable and removable open racks on the beams, the open racks having spaced-apart transverse rails; and providing a plurality of user-selectable diverse panels freely hangable on the rails to at least partially close the open racks thereby forming wall portions.



The invention relates to modular furniture and, more particularly to space dividing partitions and panels for use in forming non-architectural walls, such as in cubicles and room partitions.


In many corporations, particularly electronics, software and related high technology companies, office cubicles form the landscape of the work environment. Becoming popular in the past 40 years, cubicles are used by all levels of office workers, with modularity allowing clustering of people in space-saving layouts. Although occupying only a small amount of space, a cubicle seeks to give privacy and a high degree of functionality by means of variable configurations, with desk-like work surfaces, book cases, shelving, white boards and the like.

Variability in cubicle design has been recognized in the prior art. U.S. Pat. No. 5,155,955 to Ball et al. shows space-dividing rectangular frames having openings that may be left open or closed in varying degrees with a wide variety of fill options that may be changed to create a desired degree of privacy. The space dividing components are a full height partition system with doors and open plan panels.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,148,567 to DeRuiter et al. shows wall panels with horizontal panels supported by opposed vertical members. A connector bracket with multiple inserts supports furniture components.

One of the problems faced by major organizations is that a large number of cubicles appear to have a degree of monotony, depending on numbers. Workers and visitors can become lost in maze of streets and alleys formed by cubicles. Sounds from unknown locations become an irritant. Productivity declines have been associated with cubicle architecture where monotony isolation and random noise is seen as part of the work environment.

To offset such trends, user customization is offered by walls that allow personal expression. Shelves, bulletin boards, white boards, electrical strips for lamps or appliances, insulation panels have been incorporated as options to cubicle wall structures.

An object of the invention is to further enhance personal expression in cubicle design by improved partition and wall panel construction.


The above object has been achieved by a cubicle design that relies upon known upright posts and fixed beams as backbone elements. From these backbone elements novel open racks are supported by sturdy brackets that allow variable height removable positioning of racks in an upright position forming a wall portion. In turn, the racks support user selected panels that partially divide space defined by the rack structure.

Each rack has spaced-apart upright standards at opposed sides. A series of transverse, spaced-apart parallel rails join the standards and define a wall skeleton structure that can be filled by user-selectable panels that close partitions of the space between parallel rails. Racks, i.e., the wall skeleton structures, are rectangular tubular structures that are sufficiently light weight that they can easily be moved and positioned by an office worker using novel brackets. Each bracket has a beam gripping face or side and a rack gripping face or side. The rack gripping face has at least one cleft receiving a rack member while the beam gripping face has a tab engaging a slot in the beam. Racks vary in size, both height and width, with typical heights ranging between 2 to 3 feet for shorter racks to 3 to 5 feet for larger racks. The panels are hung freely or otherwise supported by the rails and may provide insulation, privacy, windows, storage while simultaneously allowing functionality as whiteboards, shelving, bulletin boards, slatwall panels, etc. An advantage of this invention is that installation and modifications can be done by hand, without the use of tools.


FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a cubicle having open racks and removable panels mounted on a post and beam backbone in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a cubicle with open racks as in FIG. 1, i.e., without removable panels.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a bracket for supporting the open racks of FIG. 1 and FIG. 2.

FIGS. 4A and 4B are side views of the brackets of FIG. 3.

FIGS. 5A and 5B are front and back views of the brackets of FIG. 3.

FIGS. 6 and 7 are open racks shown in FIG. 2.

FIGS. 8-10 are diverse exemplary removable panels for use with the open racks shown in FIG. 2.


With reference to FIG. 1, a cubicle 11 is shown having spacial dimensions which are mostly defined in areawise extent by the upright posts 13, 15, and 17, supported by floor 19. The upright posts are joined by transverse beams 21 and 23 which are secured to the upright posts. Upright posts and transverse beams are known cubicle backbone structures of the prior art and sold commercially for forming office cubicles. It is typical that the transverse beams will have transverse slots, such as a top slot 22 and a lateral slot 24. Typically, such slots are used for attaching or guiding members that will be supported by the upright posts and transverse beams. It is preferable, although not essential, that posts and beams contain all necessary utilities, such as electricity and signal cables, not shown but contained within the structure.

The present invention deals with separation partitions between cubicles. Such separation partitions form portions of cubicle walls that can be personalized in a manner described herein. In the embodiment of FIG. 1, the separation partitions are formed by the first open rack 25 supported by transverse beam 21 and a second open rack 27 supported by transverse beam 23. Each open rack will be described in greater detail subsequently. The first open rack 25 carries the first and second panels 31 and 33 which close portions of the open rack, thereby forming a partial solid wall. A first panel 31 has transverse slots 32 that can be used for attaching personal articles. The second panel 33 may be a whiteboard or a bulletin board. The second open rack 27 has a third panel 35 and a fourth panel 37. The third panel 35 has storage shelves 36 while the fourth panel 37 may be the same as, or compliment, the second panel 33.

With reference to FIG. 2, the first open rack 45 is seen to be connected to the transverse beam 21 by means of the first and second brackets 41 and 43. Both brackets 41 and 43 are attached to transverse beam 21 by engaging a top slot 22 and lateral slot 24 in the transverse beam. The first open rack 45 is seen to have 5 rails, i.e., cross members between upright standards. Two of the rails, namely rails 42 and 44 both engage the first and second brackets 41 and 43 in a manner described below. The open rack 45 may be lowered by placing alternate pairs of rails within clefts of the bracket so long as clearance with floor 19 exists. The second open rack 47 has four rails and so does not stand as high as the first open rack 45. The number of rails is not critical and may range between 3 to 7 or more, but 4 or 5 is preferred. The transverse beam 21 is seen to support back-to-back open racks including the first open rack 45 and the third open rack 55 immediately behind the first open rack 45. Back-to-back open racks allow formation of mutually adjoining cubicles with each cubicle user being allowed to personalize a rack on the user's side of a transverse beam. Open rack 47 is supported by third bracket 46 and fourth bracket 49 which engage the rails 52 and 54 which form the cross members of the second open rack.

Cubicle users can select open racks of a desired size, such as a four rail rack or a five rail rack, or some other configuration so long as rails fit in clefts of the support brackets. The construction and weight of open racks allow individual workers to install, move, re-configure and disassemble racks by hand without assistance of tools or special equipment. A company may keep an assortment of racks in a storage area and allow users to change racks as desired.

With reference to FIG. 3, transverse beam 21 is seen to support first bracket 41 on a first side of the beam and second bracket 43 on a back side of the beam and hence, it only partly seen. The first bracket 41 has a head portion 71 and a first jaw 53 which together define an intermediate first cleft 51. A second cleft 81 is defined by a second jaw 83 at the bottom of body portion 75 that is below head portion 71. Each bracket is preferably a unitary member although this is not important. Brackets may be cast from aluminum with a plurality of mass relief holes 79 to make the brackets lighter weight. First rail 65 and second rail 85, both associated with upright standard 67 may be seen to fit respectively into first cleft 51 and second cleft 81, respectively, to be supported by first jaw 53 and second jaw 83. Thus, a pair of spaced-apart similar brackets provide stable support for an open rack from a post and beam backbone. It may be seen that a second bracket 43 has a head portion 73 which is opposite head portion 71 of first bracket 41. Both brackets have a tab which fits into slot 22 at the top of transverse beam 21. Second bracket 43 has a body portion 77 below head portion 73 and a second jaw 87 below the body 77. Rail 86 is seen to be supported by the second jaw 87. Rail 86 partially supports upright standard 69 of an open rack, together with a first jaw on the back side of transverse beam 21, not seen in FIG. 3. Back-to-back placement of brackets increases the stability of back-to-back wall partitions, although back-to-back placement of brackets is not essential. Brackets allow a selected vertical positioning of racks.

FIGS. 4A and 4B show a bracket 41 having head portion 73 and first jaw 53 creating first cleft 51 which is sufficiently open for entry of rails of an open rack. Similarly, the second cleft 81 defined by jaw 83 is also sufficiently open for entry of another rail. Body portion 75 is seen to have the mass relief holes 79 as well as a first tab 91 which rides in a top slot of a transverse beam. A smaller second tab 93 is also on the back side of bracket 41 and rides in the lateral slot of a transverse beam.

In FIGS. 5A and 5B, the tabs 91 and 93 are seen to have fasteners 95 and 97 securing the tabs in place. Alternatively, the tabs may be unitary with a bracket forming a one piece member. The tabs allow brackets to be easily attached and removed from a transverse beam so that cubicle walls may be rapidly put up, taken down, or moved.

In FIG. 6, a first open rack 25 is a skeleton formed by parallel transverse rails 105, 107, 109, and 111 supported between first and second upright standards 101 and 103, respectively. Both the rails and the standards are made of aluminum tubing approximately 1.25 inches in diameter. Transverse rails may be brazed or welded to the upright standards, although other construction methods may be used. The rails are approximately 12 inches apart and aligned in parallel manner.

A similar situation exists in FIG. 7, except that five rails are used instead of four. The rails 205, 207, 209, 211, and 213 are supported between upright standards 201 and 203. A similar construction for the standards and rails is used as in FIG. 6. The open rack of FIG. 7 could potentially form a wall one foot higher than the rack of FIG. 6 assuming that the open rack was closed by panels. It is important that the tubes that form the rails and upright standards be hollow tubes for weight reduction. It is not necessary that the tubes be formed from aluminum. Other materials such as thin steel or carbon or plastic tubes may be used. Tubes are separated by approximately 12 inches, center-to-center. Upright standards are separated by approximately 54 to 72 inches. The four rail design of FIG. 3 is approximately 3 feet tall while the five rail design of FIG. 7 is approximately 4 feet tall. Both are approximately 54 to 72 inches wide.

With reference to FIG. 8, a first panel 31 is shown having a hook portion 32 which freely first hangs on a transverse rail remains in place by gravity. The panel engages a transverse rail with a hook portion. Side edges 34 contain slats 38. Slats 38 may be adapted to freely hold user personalized items, such as fabric, pictures, or the like.

In FIG. 9, the second panel 133 has a hook portion 132 adapted to freely hang on a transverse rail. The second panel has a tack board 136 between opposed side edges 134. The panel may have a central opening 138, between 12 inches and 20 inches in various shapes, such as circular, for allowing viewing, like a window, except without glass. Such windows or viewing ports are intended to avoid isolation of users and promote communication yet easily maintaining privacy by allowing a user to drop a cardboard closure between the side edges 134, if desired.

FIG. 10 shows a third panel 333 which is positioned by hook portion 332 sized to fit over and hang on a transverse rail. The third panel has book shelves 336 with opposed book end portions 338, forming a book case. Side walls 334 support the shelves. A backing member 342 is optional and is shown as a tack board. Other boards could be used.

The four panels described above are exemplary other panels involving video displays, photo display boards, or art work displays may be substituted. The idea is to allow a user to customize the users cubicle with whatever panels are deemed appropriate with selected amounts of openness. The height of racks may be adjusted with the brackets or by the size of the rack itself as seen by the choices between the racks of FIGS. 6 and 7. Trained furniture installers or technicians are not needed to install or modify the partitions of the present invention.

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