(19)
(11)EP 2 571 397 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
29.04.2020 Bulletin 2020/18

(21)Application number: 11784132.0

(22)Date of filing:  18.05.2011
(51)Int. Cl.: 
A47C 4/08  (2006.01)
A47C 9/06  (2006.01)
A47B 3/08  (2006.01)
A47B 96/20  (2006.01)
A47C 1/121  (2006.01)
A47C 7/44  (2006.01)
A47B 5/04  (2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/US2011/036905
(87)International publication number:
WO 2011/146554 (24.11.2011 Gazette  2011/47)

(54)

PORTABLE, COMPACT FOLDING FURNITURE PIECE

TRAGBARES, KOMPAKTES UND ZUSAMMENKLAPPBARES MÖBELSTÜCK

PIÈCE DE MOBILIER PLIANT, COMPACT ET PORTABLE


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 18.05.2010 US 345854 P

(43)Date of publication of application:
27.03.2013 Bulletin 2013/13

(73)Proprietor: Aria Enterprises, Inc.
Portland, Oregon 97209 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • MOJTABAVI, Mehdi
    Vancouver, WA 98662 (US)
  • VOSSOUGHI, Sohrab
    Portland Oregon 97229 (US)
  • KNAUB, David Randall
    Portland Oregon 97239 (US)
  • DIERINGER, Ken
    Portland Oregon 97217 (US)

(74)Representative: Hanna Moore + Curley 
Garryard House 25/26 Earlsfort Terrace
Dublin 2, D02 PX51
Dublin 2, D02 PX51 (IE)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A1-2009/104004
WO-A2-2008/128561
US-A- 4 157 203
US-A- 4 644 596
WO-A2-2004/111378
GB-A- 526 376
US-A- 4 585 272
US-A- 5 598 997
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    Technical Field



    [0001] This disclosure relates to compact folding furniture pieces and, in particular, to folding seats and tables each constructed with an articulated vertebral column that facilitates compact, convenient seat or table surface storage.

    Background



    [0002] WO2009104004 describes a seat that can be moved between an upright storage configuration and a deployed configuration in which it can support a person sitting on it. The seat comprises a seat member providing a surface on which a person can sit. The rear of the seat member is pivoted to an anchor point (e.g. a wall via a hinge, while the front of the seat member is pivoted via a hinge to a support member having a flexible section that flexes when the seat member is deployed; the flexible member supports the front of the seat member and a person sitting on it.

    [0003] US 4 585 272 describes a chair that has a reclinable backrest formed by a series of at least three superimposed segments articulated together about respective substantially horizontal axes to define, in the reclined position of the backrest, an arcuate configuration with a curve substantially corresponding to that of the arched back of a user. Resilient means are provided for resisting the movement of the segments towards the position corresponding to the reclined position of the backrest.

    [0004] Another example of a known folding furniture piece is disclosed in GB 526 376 A.

    Summary



    [0005] Accordingly the present teaching provides a furniture piece as detailed in claim 1. A furniture piece in accordance with claim 5 is also provided. Advantageous features are in the dependent claims. Depending on the embodiment of the furniture piece, the resting object on the support surface can be a person or thing.

    [0006] Additional aspects and advantages will be apparent from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments, which proceeds with reference to the accompanying drawings.

    Brief Description of the Drawings



    [0007] 

    Figs. 1 and 2 are isometric views of a portable, compact folding seat, shown in, respectively, an unfolded state and a folded state, according to one embodiment.

    Figs. 3, 4, and 5 are, respectively, top plan, side elevation, and bottom

    plan views of the folding seat in the unfolded state shown in Fig. 1.

    Fig. 6 is an exploded view of the folding seat shown in Fig. 1.

    Figs. 7A and 7B show the construction and operation of a seat assembly in, respectively, the unfolded state of Fig. 1 and the folded state of Fig. 2.

    Figs. 8A, 8B, and 8C show, respectively, side elevation, top plan, and end views of a beveled vertebral slat for use in the seat assembly.

    Figs. 9A and 9B show, in its respective unfolded and folded states, the folding seat installed in a stadium or theater seating arrangement in which seats are installed on a stepped floor surface.

    Fig. 9C shows the folding seat in its unfolded state of Fig. 9A and including a mounting member hinge-mounted to the seat back.

    Figs. 10A and 10B are isometric views of the folding seat of Figs. 1 and 2, configured in an alternative embodiment as a freestanding chair shown in, respectively, an unfolded state and a folded state.

    Figs. 11A and 11B are side elevation views of the freestanding chair of Figs. 10A and 10B, respectively.

    Fig. 12 is an exploded view of the freestanding chair of Figs. 10A and 10B, showing modifications of a seat back foam layer and a seat assembly foam layer of the folding seat for accommodating chair leg sets to thereby form the freestanding chair.

    Fig. 13 is a perspective view of the frontal portions of two side-by-side wall-mounted folding seats, the left-side seat shown in a folded state and the right-side seat shown in an unfolded state.

    Figs. 14A and 14B are side elevation views of the wall-mounted folding seat of Fig. 13 shown in, respectively, its unfolded state and its folded state.

    Fig. 15 is a perspective view of the frontal portions of two side-by-side floor-mounted folding seats, the left-side seat shown in a folded state and the right-side seat shown in an unfolded state.

    Fig. 16 is a perspective view of the frontal portions of two side-by-side wall-mounted folding tables, the left-side table shown in a folded state and the right-side table shown in an unfolded state.

    Figs. 17A and 17B are side elevation views of one wall-mounted folding table of Fig. 16 shown in, respectively, its unfolded state and its folded state.

    Figs. 18A and 18B and Figs. 19A and 19B are pairs of isometric and end views showing a first alternative embodiment of a vertebral column in, respectively, a straightened, relaxed configuration corresponding to an unfolded state of a folding seat, and in a curved configuration corresponding to the folded state of a folding seat.

    Figs. 20A and 20B are respective isometric and end views showing one interior vertebral link of the first alternative embodiment of the vertebral column.

    Figs. 21A and 21B and Figs. 22A and 22B are pairs of enlarged fragmentary respective isometric and end views showing in detail the interconnection of multiple vertebral links of the first alternative embodiment of the vertebral column in, respectively, the straightened configuration of Figs. 18A and 18B, and in the curved configuration of Figs. 19A and 19B.

    Figs. 23A and 23B and Figs. 24A and 24B are pairs of isometric and end views showing a second alternative embodiment of a vertebral column in, respectively, a straightened, relaxed configuration corresponding to an unfolded state of a folding seat, and in a curved configuration corresponding to a folded state of a folding seat.

    Figs. 25A and 25B are respective isometric and end views showing one interior vertebral link of the second alternative embodiment of the vertebral column.

    Figs. 26A and 26B and Figs. 27A and 27B are pairs of enlarged fragmentary respective isometric and end views showing in detail the interconnection of multiple vertebral links of the second alternative embodiment of the vertebral column in, respectively, the straightened configuration of Figs. 23A and 23B, and in the curved configuration of Figs. 24A and 24B.


    Detailed Description of Preferred Embodiments



    [0008] Figs. 1 and 2 are isometric views of a portable, compact folding seat 10, in a preferred embodiment shown in, respectively, an unfolded state and a folded state. Figs. 3, 4, and 5 are, respectively, top plan, side elevation, and bottom plan views of folding seat 10 in the unfolded state shown in Fig. 1.

    [0009] With reference to Figs. 1-5, folding seat 10 comprises a generally rectangular seat back 12 that has a seat back rest surface 14, a seat back mount surface 16, a top end 18, and a bottom end 20. A first or seat back foam layer 22 is bonded with adhesive or Velcro™ fabric hook and loop fastener material to, and covers the surface area of, seat back rest surface 14 to provide a padded seat back 12. A seat assembly 24 is positioned on seat back foam layer 22 and secured to seat back 12 near its bottom end 20. Seat assembly 24 is of shorter length than that of seat back 12. Seat assembly 24 includes a vertebral column 26 of nine lengthwise parallel-aligned beveled vertebral members or slats 28b and corner vertebral members or slats 28c of equal lengths positioned between a seat mount 36 and a seat base 38. Beveled vertebral slats 28b have beveled ends 30b, and corner vertebral slats 28c have right-angle corner ends 30c. Vertebral column 26 is formed with a beveled vertebral slat 28b at each end. Between the ends of vertebral column 26 is an alternating sequence of beveled vertebral slats 28b and corner vertebral slats 28c such that each corner vertebral slat 28c is positioned between two beveled vertebral slats 28b.

    [0010] Fig. 6 is an exploded view of folding seat 10; Figs. 7A and 7B show the construction and operation of seat assembly 24 in, respectively, the unfolded state of Fig. 1 and the folded state of Fig. 2; and Figs. 8A, 8B, and 8C show several views of beveled vertebral slat 28b marked with preferred dimensions. With reference to Figs. 1, 2, 6, 7A, 7B, 8A, 8B, and 8C, first and second spaced-apart spring bands 40 and 42 secure together, as a flexible unit, seat mount 36, vertebral column 26, and seat base 38, the last of which having a seat surface 44. A second or seat assembly foam layer 46 covers the surface area of seat assembly 24 and forms an interface layer between seat assembly 24 and seat back foam layer 22. Seat assembly foam layer 46 is bonded with adhesive or Velcro™ fabric hook and loop fastener material to seat base 38, and the portion of seat assembly foam layer 46 covering seat surface 44 provides a padded seat for an occupant. Seat assembly 24 is secured to seat back 12 by four bolts 50 (only one shown) passing through axially aligned holes 52 in seat mount 36, spacer blocks 54 set in aligned rectangular openings 56 in seat assembly foam layer 46 and seat back foam layer 22 (Fig. 6), and seat back 12 in the manner described below with reference to Fig. 6.

    [0011] With particular reference to Fig. 6, folding seat 10 is assembled by first joining the component parts of seat assembly 24. This is accomplished by placing vertebral slats 28b and 28c alternately in lengthwise parallel alignment with their ends set even with one another to define for vertebral column 26 linear, discontinuous side margins along its length. Each of spring bands 40 and 42 has nine sets of two spaced-apart holes 60 that are located to receive screws 62
    (Figs. 7A and 7B) to hold vertebral slats 28b and 28c in the alignment configuration described above. Each of spring bands 40 and 42 has multiple sets of holes 64 through which screws 66 (Figs. 7A and 7B) pass to secure the ends of spring bands 40 and 42 to seat mount 36 and seat base 38 to form seat assembly 24 as a flexible unit. The cross-sectional area of each of vertebral slats 28b and 28c defines a trapezoidal-shaped perimeter having nonparallel opposite sides of equal lengths. Each of the nonparallel sides is inclined at an 85.5° angle 70 (Fig. 8C) relative to the base of the trapezoid. Inclination angle 70 is set in cooperation with a 10° cant angle 72 (Figs. 9A and 9B) of seat back 12 to establish a desired substantially horizontal, raised seat surface 44 for a seat occupant when folding seat 10 is in its folded state.

    [0012] Figs. 8A, 8B, and 8C show beveled vertebral slat 28b marked with preferred dimensions (in millimeters) and formed with beveled ends 30b. Corner vetebral slats 28c are of the same dimensions as those of beveled vertebral slats 28b, except that corner ends 30c form right angles relative to the base of the trapezoid. The alternating sequence of beveled slats 28 and corner slats 28c in vertebral column 26 prevents pinching of the seat occupant's fingers while folding seat 10 relaxes to its unfolded state.

    [0013] With particular reference again to Fig. 6, four rectangular openings 56 of each of seat back foam layer 22 and seat assembly foam layer 46 are arranged in a rectangular pattern to receive corresponding rectangular spacer blocks 54 of the same height as the combined thicknesses of seat back foam layer 22 and seat assembly foam layer 46. Four bolts 50 pass through holes 52 in seat mount 36, spacer blocks 54, and seat back 12 to complete the assembly of folding seat 10. Two spaced-apart rubber feet 74 are inserted in the bottom end of seat mount 36 to prevent excessive wear of folding seat 10 when it is dragged across the surface of a floor during transportation to and from storage.

    [0014] Figs. 9A and 9B show, in its respective unfolded and folded states, folding seat 10 installed in a stadium or theater seating arrangement in which seats are installed on a stepped floor surface 90. A floor-contacting end 92 of folding seat 10 rests on a floor portion 94, and seat back mount surface 16 of seat back 12 is mounted to a riser 96. Skilled persons will appreciate that folding seat 10 can be installed in other tiered seating arrangements, such as, for example, in bleacher structures or on sloped floor surfaces.

    [0015] With reference to Figs. 4, 5, 9A, 9B, and 9C, a mounting member 100 extends at a 10° angle 72 relative to seat back mount surface 16 to mount folding seat 10 to riser 96 with seat back 12 inclined at a 10° cant angle. Mounting member 100 is preferably set at a fixed 10° angle 72. Fig. 9C shows a higher cost mounting alternative, in which mounting member 100 is hinge mounted to seat back 12 to permit mounting member 100 to pivot outwardly from a flush mount storage position in a recess (not shown) in seat back mount surface 16 to a 10° angle 72 operating position. Mounting member 100 has an L-shaped slot 102 with its longer segment 104 and its shorter segment 108 oriented, respectively, perpendicular and parallel to bottom end 20 of seat back 12. Folding seat 10 can be dropped downwardly toward floor portion 94 such that longer segment 104 of slot 102 receives a mounting screw 108 anchored in riser 96 and then moved horizontally along shorter segment 106 of slot 102 to releasably lock folding seat 10 in place. Fig. 2 shows in seat back foam layer 22 and seat back 12 an access hole 112 through which a screwdriver can be inserted to turn mounting screw 108 passing through mounting member 100 and into riser 96. Fig. 5 shows that longer segment 104 is offset from and the distal end of shorter segment 106 is aligned with a longitudinal center line 110 of seat back 12 so that, when folding seat 10 is locked in place, mounting screw 108 is positioned along center line 110. Fig. 4 shows folding seat 10 with floor-contacting end 92 inclined at a 10° bevel angle 114. Bevel angle 114 matches the 10° cant angle of seat back 12 and thereby causes folding seat 10, when installed, to rest level on floor portion 94. Fig. 9B shows folding seat 10, when installed and in its folded state, with a substantially horizontal, raised seat surface 44 on which a seat occupant can sit.

    [0016] With particular reference to Fig. 6, Figs. 7A and 7B, and Figs. 9A and 9B, whenever no external force is applied to seat base 38 of seat assembly 24, spring bands 40 and 42 cause folding seat 10 to automatically assume at rest its unfolded state (Figs. 7A and 9A), in which vertebral column 26 is substantially straight. Fig. 6 shows small magnets 116 set in recesses 118 in seat surface 44 and in seat back rest surface 14 of seat base 38 and seat back 12, respectively. Magnets 116 ensure that seat assembly 24 snaps shut and remains closed, i.e., seat mount 36 and seat base 38 lie in substantially the same plane, when folding seat 10 is unoccupied. Whenever a seat occupant pulls seat base 38 completely away from seat back 12 to present a raised, substantially horizontal sitting surface, folding seat 10 assumes its folded state (Figs. 7B and 9B), in which vertebral column 26 is curved. Opening folding seat 10 applies to vertebral column 26 a bending force that closes the spaces between adjacent nonparallel sides of vertebral slats 28b and 28c and thereby squeezes adjacent vertebral slats 28b and 28c together to form a curved vertebral column 26. The weight of an occupant sitting on foam padded seat base 38 maintains the folded state of folding seat 10 as it supports the seat occupant.

    [0017] Preferred materials used in the construction of folding seat 10 include 13-ply baltic birch plywood for seat back 12, vertebral slats 28b and 28c, seat mount 36, and seat mount 38; spring steel for spring bands 40 and 42; and urethane foam material for seat back foam layer 22 and seat assembly foam layer 46.

    [0018] Figs. 10A and 10B are isometric views of folding seat 10, configured in an alternative embodiment as a freestanding chair 120 shown in, respectively, an unfolded state and a folded state. Figs. 11A and 11B are side elevation views of freestanding chair 120 in, respectively, its unfolded state and its folded state. Fig. 12 is an exploded view of freestanding chair 120, showing the addition of two similar chair leg sets 122 to and modifications of seat back foam layer 22 and seat assembly foam layer 46 of folding seat 10 to accommodate chair leg sets 122 and thereby form freestanding chair 120.

    [0019] With reference to Figs. 10A, 10B, 11A, 11B, and 12, the component parts of folding seat 10 and freestanding chair 120 are the same, except for substitution of chair leg sets 122 for spacer blocks 54 and substitution of two slots 124 for different pairs of rectangular openings 56. With particular reference to Fig. 12, each of chair leg sets 122 has an upright portion 130 extending from and positioned at an 80° angle 132 relative to a floor support portion 134. Upright portion 130 has the same height and width as the height and width of spacer blocks 54 and includes two holes 52 positioned so that bolts 50 pass through them during assembly of the chair. Rectangular openings 56 in seat back foam layer 22 and seat assembly foam layer 46 are replaced by slots 124 that extend into foam layers 22 and 46 from their respective bottom ends and cover a distance equal to the length of upright portions 130. Upright portions 130 fit into slots 124, and bolts 50 passing through holes 52 secure chair leg sets 122 in place to form freestanding chair 120.

    [0020] Fig. 13 is a perspective view of the frontal portions of two side-by-side wall-mounted folding seats 150, one of which (left side) shown in a folded state and the other of which (right side) shown in an unfolded state. Figs. 14A and 14B are side elevation views of wall-mounted folding seat 150 in, respectively, its unfolded state and its folded state. With reference to Figs. 13, 14A, and 14B, the component parts of folding seat 10 and wall-mounted folding seat 150 are the same, except for substitution of an inclined wall surface 152 as a common seat back of one or a row of multiple folding seats for a separate seat back 12. Wall surface 152 is inclined at an 80° angle 154 relative to a floor 156. Wall-mounted folding seat 150 is useful for installation in public transportation vehicles (e.g., subway car) or any other application in which compact, flat seat storage would be of benefit. When wall-mounted folding seat 150 is installed, seat back foam layer 22 rests against wall "I" surface 152. Bolts 50 pass through holes 52 drilled at predetermined locations in wall surface 152, as shown in Fig. 13.

    [0021] Fig. 15 is a perspective view of the frontal portions of two side-by-side floor-mounted folding seats 10, one of which (left side) shown in a folded state and the other of which (right side) shown in an unfolded state. With reference to Fig. 15, folding seats 10 are inclined at a 10° cant angle 72 in similar manner to that shown in Figs. 9A and 9B and fastened to an inverted U-shaped railing 160 that is anchored to a floor 162. Each of floor-mounted seats 10 can be secured to railing 160 by passing mounting screw 108 through mounting member 100 and a threaded hole (not shown) provided in the horizontal section of railing 160.

    [0022] Fig. 16 is a perspective view of the frontal portions of two side-by-side wall-mounted folding tables 170, one of which (left side) shown in a folded state and the other of which (right side) shown in an unfolded state. Figs. 17A and 17B are side elevation views of one wall-mounted folding table 170 in, respectively, its unfolded state and its folded state. With reference to Figs. 16, 17A, and 17B, the component parts of wall-mounted folding seat 150 and wall-mounted folding table 170 are the same, except for substitution of a flexible, uncushioned table (i.e., hard table top) surface layer 46' for seat assembly foam layer 46 and a wall surface 172 as a mounting surface of folding table 170 for a separate seat back 12 and its corresponding seat back foam layer 22. Wall surface 172 is oriented at a 90° angle relative to floor 156, in a conventional arrangement. Wall-mounted folding table 170 is useful for installation in an office furniture system (e.g., a work space cubicle divider wall) or any other application in which compact, flat table storage would be of benefit. When wall-mounted folding table 170 is installed, table surface layer 46' rests against wall surface 172. Bolts 50 pass through holes 52 drilled at predetermined locations in wall surface 172, as shown in Fig. 16. Wall-mounted folding table 170 can be constructed to remain in the folded state while supporting no or a light-weight object by use of a heavy weight or weighted table base 38 or by selection for spring bands 40 and 42 a material having a sufficiently low spring constant. Magnets 116 could be used to keep wall-mounted folding table 170 in the unfolded state.

    [0023] Figs. 18A and 18B and Figs. 19A and 19B are pairs of isometric and end views of a vertebral column 190, which constitutes a first alternative embodiment of a vertebral column assembled with individual vertebral links interconnected by web sections confining expansion foam slats to form an integral distributed spring mechanism. Figs. 18A and 18B show vertebral column 190 in a straightened, relaxed configuration, and Figs. 19A and 19B show vertebral column 190 in a curved configuration assumed in response to an externally applied bending force. With reference to Figs. 18A, 18B, 19A, and 19B, vertebral column 190 includes nine parallel-aligned vertebral links, seven of which are interior vertebral links 192 of nominally the same size and shape and two of which are end-coupling vertebral links 194 and 196. End-coupling vertebral links 194 and 196 are of the same size and shape of interior vertebral links 192, except for formation of the respective U-shaped free ends 198 and 200 sized to receive different ones of seat mount 36 and seat (or table) base 38. Each interior vertebral link 192 has on opposite sides and extending along its length two sets of complementary structures configured to interlock with corresponding complementary structures of next adjacent vertebral links 192. End-coupling vertebral links 194 and 196 have on the sides opposite their respective free ends 198 and 200 structures configured to interlock with corresponding complementary structures of the next adjacent interior vertebral links 192. The entire assembly of nine vertebral links forms articulating adjoining vertebral links.

    [0024] Figs. 20A and 20B are respective isometric and end views of one interior vertebral link 192, which is of I-beam shape with different structural features at its four lateral ends. Interior vertebral link 192 has on a seat side member 204 a first set of interlocking structures including an open-end hinge sleeve 206 and a pivot 208 and on an underside member 210 a second set of interlocking structures including a hooked end 212 and a rolled edge 214. A web 216 interconnects seat side member 204 and underside member 210. Figs. 18A and 18B show end-coupling vertebral link 194, on its seat side member 204, open-end hinge sleeve 206 of the first set and, on its underside member 210, hook and 212 of the second set. Figs. 18A and 18B also show end-coupling vertebral link 196, on its seat side member 204, pivot 208 of the first set and, on its underside member 210, rolled edge 214 of the second set. Vertebral links 192, 194, and 196 are preferably made of extruded aluminum.

    [0025] Figs. 21A and 21B and Figs. 22A and 22B are pairs of enlarged fragmentary isometric and end views showing in detail the interconnection of multiple vertebral links to form vertebral column 190 of articulating adjoining vertebral links 192 and 196. Each pair of adjacent vertebral links is pivotally joined by engagement of pivot 208 in hinge sleeve 206 and by compression of rolled edge 214 against hooked end 212 by an expansion foam or elastomeric slat 220 positioned between and contacting hooked end 212 and web 216. Elastomeric slat 220 is preferably made of polyurethane foam of appropriate durometer and is of rectangular cross-sectional shape when at rest, i.e., before insertion between hooked end 212 and web 216 of adjacent vertebral links. Hinge sleeves 206 and pivots 208 arranged in alternating succession and each adjacent hinge sleeve 206 and pivot 208 connected to each other constitute interlocking articulating structures of vertical column 190 that establish its curvature. Figs. 21A and 21B show vertebral column 190 in a straightened configuration corresponding to the unfolded state of folding seat 10, and Figs. 22A and 22B show vertebral column 190 in a curved configuration corresponding to the folded state of folding seat 10.

    [0026] Figs. 21B and 22B show elastomeric slats 220 exhibiting deformed, concave surfaces 222 that function as bearing surfaces against which hook ends 212 rest. Concave surfaces 222 change shape in response to changing compressive forces imparted by hook ends 212 so as to permit them to remain in place while complying with the different amounts of curvature of vertebral column 190 as it bends between the unfolding and folding states of folding seat 10. Elastomeric slats 220 urge vertebral column 190 to its straightened configuration by inherent restorative forces of elastomeric slats 220 urging their return to a nominal rectangular shape in the absence of externally applied compressive forces during unfolding of folding seat 10. If vertebral column 190 is used in the construction of wall-mounted table 170, elastomeric slats 220 may be formed of softer (i.e., lower durometer) material to decrease its resistance to deformation and thereby cause wall-mounted table 170 to remain in the folded state when no object rests on the table surface.

    [0027] Fig. 21B shows the vertebral link dimensions and separation distances of adjoining vertebral links that establish for vertebral column 190 the progressive incremental angular displacements of pivots 208 interlocked within their associated hinge sleeves 206 to achieve the straightened configuration shown in Fig. 18B (unfolded state of folding seat 10) and the curved configuration of Fig. 19B (folded state of folding seat 10). With reference to Fig. 21B, hooked end 212 and rolled edge 214 interlocked in the straightened configuration are separated by a distance 224 of 2.59 mm. A center-to-center distance 226 of open-end hinge sleeve 206 and pivot 208 of the first set of interlocking structures on underside member 210 of each interior vertebral link 192 is 19.7 mm. The width of vertebral column 190 is a distance 228 of 19.7 mm between the outer surfaces of seat side member 204 and underside member 210 of each of vertebral links 192, 194, and 196. Fig. 22B shows the complete closure of separation distance 224 and resulting contact between interlocked hooked end 212 and rolled edge 214 in the folded state of folding seat 10.

    [0028] Figs. 23A and 23B and Figs. 24A and 24B are pairs of isometric and end views of a vertebral column 190', which constitutes a second alternative embodiment of a vertebral column assembled with individual vertebral links interconnected by web sections confining expansion foam slats to form an integral distributed spring mechanism. The component parts of vertebral column 190 and vertebral column 190' are the same, except for a modification of one of the first set of interlocking structures that decouples them and substitution of a larger rectangular elastomeric slat 220' that fits between webs 216 of adjacent vertebral links. The views of vertebral column 190 and its components shown in Figs. 18A and 18B, Figs. 19A and 19B, Figs. 20A and 20B, Figs. 21A and 21B, and Figs. 22A and 22B correspond to the views of vertebral column 190' and its components shown in the respective Figs. 23A and 23B, Figs. 24A and 24B, Figs. 25A and 25B, Figs. 26A and 26B, and Figs. 27A and 27B. Similar components and structural features are identified by common reference numerals, and corresponding, modified components and features are identified by the same reference numerals followed by primes.

    [0029] The modification of the first set of interlocking structures entails substitution of a rolled edges 212' of vertebral links 192' and 194' for hooked ends 212 of vertebral links 192 and 194. The substitution of rolled edge 212' in each vertebral link 192' and 194' results in a decoupling of adjacent rolled edges 212' and 214 of vertebral column 190', as shown in Fig. 23B. Rectangular elastomeric slat 220' is sized to form a tight fit between webs 216 of adjacent ones of vertebral links 192', 194', and 196', as shown in Figs. 23B and 26B. Figs. 24B and 27B show that elastomeric slat 220' undergoes compression on all sides in response to changing compressive forces imparted by different amounts of curvature of vertebral column 190' as it bends between the unfolding and folding states of folding seat 10.

    [0030] Fig. 26B shows the vertebral link dimensions and separation distances of adjoining vertebral links that establish for vertebral column 190' the progressive incremental angular displacements of pivots 208 interlocked within their associated hinge sleeves 206 to achieve the straightened configuration shown in Fig. 23B (unfolded state of folding seat 10) and the curved configuration of Fig. 24B (folded state of folding seat 10). With reference to Fig. 26B, adjacent rolled edges 212' and 214 in the straightened configuration are separated by a distance 224' of 2.59 mm. A center-to-center distance 226 of open-end hinge sleeve 26 and pivot 208 of the first set of interlocking structures on underside member 210 of each interior vertebral link 192 is 19.7 mm. The width of vertebral column 190' is a distance 228 of 19.7 mm between the outer surfaces of seat side member 204 and underside member 210 of each of vertebral links 192', 194', and 196'. Fig. 27B shows the complete closure of separation distance 224' and resulting contact between adjacent rolled edges 212' and 214 in the folded state of folding seat 10. Figs. 24B and 27B show the convergence of adjacent rolled edges 212' and 214 of vertebral column 190' bent in the folded state of folding seat 10.

    [0031] End-coupling vertebral links 194 and 196 at opposite ends of vertebral column 190 and end-coupling vertebral links 194' and 196' at opposite ends of vertebral column 190' each receive fasteners (not shown) to attach one of the end-coupling vertebral links to seat mount 36 and the opposite one of the end-coupling vertebral links to seat base 38 to form complete seat assemblies 24.

    [0032] It will be obvious to those having skill in the art that many changes may be made to the details of the above-described embodiments without departing from the underlying principles of the invention. For example, substitution of a single, wide spring band for spring bands 40 and 42 may be acceptable in certain configurations of folding seat 10. The scope of the present invention should, therefore, be determined only by the following claims.


    Claims

    1. A portable, compact folding furniture piece (10, 170) configured for convenient storage and comprising an object support assembly (24) including an articulated vertebral column (26) positioned between a support mount (36) and a support base (38) and including a spring mechanism (40, 42), wherein the articulated vertebral column (26) includes multiple vertebral slats (28b, 28c);
    the spring mechanism (40, 42) comprises a spring band securing together, as a flexible unit, the support mount (36), the articulated vertebral column (26), and the support base (38);
    the support mount (6) is operatively connectable to a mounting structure (12, 96, 152, 160, 172);
    the support base (38) has opposite ends between which is located a support surface (44), one end of the support base (38) connected to the articulated vertebral column (26) that includes the multiple vertebral slats (28b, 28c), and the other end of the support base (38) constituting a free end of the support surface (44); and
    the spring mechanism (40, 42) exhibits flexibility properties such that the object support assembly (24) assumes at rest an unfolded state in which the articulated vertebral column (26) is substantially straight to provide a closed support surface (44) and, in response to an externally applied bending force, assumes a folded state in which the articulated vertebral column (26) is curved to provide a substantially horizontal raised, open support surface (44) on which an object can rest.
     
    2. The folding furniture piece of claim 1, further comprising an uncushioned surface layer (46') positioned on the support surface to provide a hard table top for the support surface.
     
    3. The folding furniture piece of claim 1, in which the spring band comprises a nonextensible flat spring (40, 42).
     
    4. The folding furniture piece of claim 1, in which the spring band constitutes a first spring band, and further comprising a second spring band exhibiting the same elastic properties as those of the first spring band and cooperating with the first spring band to secure together, as a flexible unit, the support mount, articulated vertebral column, and support base.
     
    5. A portable, compact folding furniture piece (10, 170) configured for convenient storage and comprising an object support assembly (24) including an articulated vertebral column (190,190') positioned between a support mount (36) and a support base (38) and including a spring mechanism (192, 220; 192', 220'), wherein
    the articulated vertebral column (190, 190') includes multiple vertebral links (192; 192') having interconnecting web sections (216), the multiple vertebral links (192; 192') confining resilient deformable members (220, 220') to form an integral distributed spring mechanism (192, 200'; 192', 220'), the support mount (36) and support base (38) coupled to the articulated vertebral column (190, 190') such that the support mount (36), articulated vertebral column (190, 190'), and support base (38) are secured together as a flexible unit;
    the support mount (36) is operatively connectable to a mounting structure (12, 96, 152, 160, 172);
    the support base (38) has opposite ends between which is located a support surface (44), one end of the support base (38) connected to the articulated vertebral column (190, 190'), and the other end of the support base (38) constituting a free end of the support surface (44); and
    the spring mechanism (192, 220; 192', 220') exhibits flexibility properties such that the object support assembly (24) assumes at rest an unfolded state in which the articulated vertebral column (190, 190') is substantially straight to provide a closed support surface (44) and, in response to an externally applied bending force, assumes a folded state in which the articulated vertebral column (190, 190') is curved to provide a substantially horizontal raised, open support surface (44) on which an object can rest.
     
    6. The folding furniture piece of claim 5, in which the resilient deformable members include elastomeric material.
     
    7. The folding furniture piece of claim 1 or claim 5, in which the object support assembly, support mount, support base, support surface, and mounting structure constitute, respectively, a seat assembly (24), seat mount (36), seat base (38), sitting surface, and seat back (12) and thereby form a folding seat (10), and in which the seat back has a seat back rest surface (14), and further comprising a first foam layer (22) positioned between the seat back rest surface and the seat assembly to provide padding for the seat back.
     
    8. The folding furniture piece of claim 7, in which the seat base has a seat surface (44), and further comprising a second foam layer (46) positioned on the seat surface to provide padding for the sitting surface.
     
    9. The folding furniture piece of claim 1 or claim 5, in which the object support assembly, support mount, support base, support surface, and mounting structure constitute, respectively, a seat assembly (24), seat mount (36), seat base (38), sitting surface, and seat back (12) and thereby form a folding seat (10), and in which the seat back has a seat back mount surface (16), and further comprising a mounting member (100) that is matable to the upstanding mounting structure (96, 160) to secure the seat back in a stationary location.
     
    10. The folding furniture piece of claim 9, in which the mounting member and the upstanding mounting structure cooperate to provide an angle of inclination (72) for the seat back.
     
    11. The folding furniture piece of claim 1 or claim 5, in which the object support assembly, support mount, support base, support surface, and mounting structure constitute, respectively, a seat assembly (24), seat mount (36), seat base (38), sitting surface, and seat back (12) and thereby form a folding seat, and further comprising a chair leg set (122) operatively connected to the seat assembly and seat back to form a freestanding chair.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Tragbares, platzsparendes zusammenklappbares Möbelstück (10, 170), das für eine praktische Aufbewahrung ausgelegt ist und eine Objektstützbaugruppe (24) umfasst, die eine gegliederte Wirbelsäule (26) umfasst, die zwischen einem Stützträger (36) und einer Stützbasis (38) positioniert ist, und einen Federmechanismus (40, 42) umfasst, wobei die gegliederte Wirbelsäule (26) mehrere Wirbellatten (28b, 28c) umfasst;
    wobei der Federmechanismus (40, 42) ein Federband umfasst, das den Stützträger (36), die gegliederte Wirbelsäule (26) und die Stützbasis (38) als eine flexible Einheit zusammen festhält;
    wobei der Stützträger (6) mit einer Montagestruktur (12, 96, 152, 160, 172) betriebsfähig verbindbar ist;
    wobei die Stützbasis (38) gegenüberliegende Enden aufweist, zwischen denen sich eine Stützfläche (44) befindet, wobei ein Ende der Stützbasis (38) mit der gegliederten Wirbelsäule (26) verbunden ist, welche die mehreren Wirbellatten (28b, 28c) umfasst, und das andere Ende der Stützbasis (38) ein freies Ende der Stützfläche (44) ist; und
    wobei der Federmechanismus (40, 42) Flexibilitätseigenschaften aufweist, so dass die Objektstützbaugruppe (24) im Ruhezustand einen aufgeklappten Zustand annimmt, in dem die gegliederte Wirbelsäule (26) im Wesentlichen gerade ist, um eine geschlossene Stützfläche (44) bereitzustellen, und als Reaktion auf eine extern ausgeübte Biegekraft einen zusammengeklappten Zustand annimmt, in dem die gegliederte Wirbelsäule (26) gekrümmt ist, um eine im Wesentlichen waagerechte, angehobene, offene Stützfläche (44) bereitzustellen, auf der ein Objekt liegen kann.
     
    2. Zusammenklappbares Möbelstück nach Anspruch 1, ferner umfassend eine ungepolsterte Oberflächenschicht (46'), die auf der Stützfläche positioniert ist, um eine feste Tischplatte für die Stützfläche bereitzustellen.
     
    3. Zusammenklappbares Möbelstück nach Anspruch 1, bei dem das Federband eine nicht dehnbare flache Feder umfasst (40, 42).
     
    4. Zusammenklappbares Möbelstück nach Anspruch 1, bei dem das Federband ein erstes Federband ist, und ferner umfassend ein zweites Federband, das die gleichen elastischen Eigenschaften wie die des ersten Federbandes aufweist und mit dem ersten Federband zusammenwirkt, um den Stützträger, die gegliederte Wirbelsäule und die Stützbasis als eine flexible Einheit zusammen festzuhalten.
     
    5. Tragbares, platzsparendes zusammenklappbares Möbelstück (10, 170), das für eine praktische Aufbewahrung ausgelegt ist und eine Objektstützbaugruppe (24) umfasst, die eine gegliederte Wirbelsäule (26) umfasst, die zwischen einem Stützträger (36) und einer Stützbasis (38) positioniert ist, und einen Federmechanismus (40, 42) umfasst, wobei
    die gegliederte Wirbelsäule (190, 190') mehrere Wirbelglieder (192; 192') umfasst, die Zwischenstegabschnitte (216) aufweisen, wobei die mehreren Wirbelglieder (192; 192') federelastische verformbare Elemente (220, 220') einschränken, um einen einstückigen verteilten Federmechanismus (192, 200'; 192', 220') zu bilden, wobei der Stützträger (36) und die Stützbasis (38) mit der gegliederten Wirbelsäule (190, 190') derart gekoppelt sind, dass der Stützträger (36), die gegliederte Wirbelsäule (190, 190') und die Stützbasis (38) als eine flexible Einheit zusammen festgehalten werden;
    der Stützträger (36) mit einer Montagestruktur (12, 96, 152, 160, 172) betriebsfähig verbunden ist;
    die Stützbasis (38) gegenüberliegende Enden aufweist, zwischen denen sich eine Stützfläche (44) befindet, wobei ein Ende der Stützbasis (38) mit der gegliederten Wirbelsäule (190, 190') verbunden ist und das andere Ende der Stützbasis (38) ein freies Ende der Stützfläche (44) ist; und
    der Federmechanismus (192, 220; 192', 220') Flexibilitätseigenschaften aufweist, so dass die Objektstützbaugruppe (24) im Ruhezustand einen aufgeklappten Zustand einnimmt, in dem die gegliederte Wirbelsäule (190, 190') im Wesentlichen gerade ist, um eine geschlossene Stützfläche (44) bereitzustellen, und als Reaktion auf eine extern ausgeübte Biegekraft einen zusammengeklappten Zustand annimmt, in dem die gegliederte Wirbelsäule (190, 190') gekrümmt ist, um eine im Wesentlichen waagerechte, angehobene, offene Stützfläche (44) bereitzustellen, auf der ein Objekt liegen kann.
     
    6. Zusammenklappbares Möbelstück nach Anspruch 5, bei dem die federelastischen verformbaren Elemente ein Elastomermaterial umfassen.
     
    7. Zusammenklappbares Möbelstück nach Anspruch 1 oder 5, bei dem die Objektstützbaugruppe, der Stützträger, die Stützbasis, die Stützfläche und die Montagestruktur jeweils eine Sitzbaugruppe (24), einen Sitzträger (36), eine Sitzbasis (38), eine Sitzfläche und eine Sitzrückenlehne (12) sind und dadurch einen Klappsitz (10) bilden, und bei dem die Sitzrückenlehne eine Sitzrückenlehnen-Anlagefläche (14) aufweist, und ferner umfassend eine erste Schaumstoffschicht (22), die zwischen der Sitzrückenlehnen-Anlagefläche und der Sitzbaugruppe positioniert ist, um eine Polsterung für die Sitzrückenlehne bereitzustellen.
     
    8. Zusammenklappbares Möbelstück nach Anspruch 7, bei dem die Sitzbasis eine Sitzfläche (44) aufweist und ferner eine zweite Schaumstoffschicht (46) umfasst, die auf der Sitzfläche positioniert ist, um eine Füllung für die Sitzfläche bereitzustellen.
     
    9. Zusammenklappbares Möbelstück nach Anspruch 1 oder 5, bei dem die Objektstützbaugruppe, der Stützträger, die Stützbasis, die Stützfläche und die Montagestruktur jeweils eine Sitzbaugruppe (24), einen Sitzträger (36), eine Sitzbasis (38), eine Sitzfläche und eine Sitzrückenlehne (12) sind und dadurch einen Klappsitz (10) bilden, und bei dem die Sitzrückenlehne eine Sitzrückenlehnen-Montagefläche (16) aufweist, und ferner umfassend ein Montageelement (100), das zu der aufrechten Montagestruktur (96, 160) passt, um die Sitzrückenlehne an einer ortsfesten Stelle festzuhalten.
     
    10. Zusammenklappbares Möbelstück nach Anspruch 9, bei dem das Montageelement und die aufrechte Montagestruktur zusammenwirken, um einen Neigungswinkel (72) für die Sitzrückenlehne bereitzustellen.
     
    11. Zusammenklappbares Möbelstück nach Anspruch 1 oder 5, bei dem die Objektstützbaugruppe, der Stützträger, die Stützbasis, die Stützfläche und die Montagestruktur jeweils eine Sitzbaugruppe (24), ein Sitzträger (36), eine Sitzbasis (38), eine Sitzfläche und eine Sitzrückenlehne (12) sind und dadurch einen Klappsitz bilden, und ferner umfassend einen Stuhlbeinsatz (122), der betriebsfähig mit der Sitzbaugruppe und der Sitzrückenlehne verbunden ist, um einen freistehenden Stuhl zu bilden.
     


    Revendications

    1. Meuble pliant compact portable (10, 170) conçu pour un rangement pratique et comprenant un ensemble de support d'objet (24) comprenant une colonne vertébrale articulée (26) positionnée entre une monture de support (36) et une base de support (38) et comprenant un mécanisme à ressort (40, 42), dans lequel la colonne vertébrale articulée (26) comprend des lames vertébrales (28b, 28c) multiples ;
    le mécanisme à ressort (40, 42) comprend une bande à ressort fixant ensemble, comme une unité flexible, la monture de support (36), la colonne vertébrale articulée (26) et la base de support (38) ;
    la monture de support (6) peut être reliée de manière opérationelle à une structure de montage (12, 96, 152, 160, 172) ;
    la base de support (38) a des extrémités opposées entre lesquelles se trouve une surface de support (44), une extrémité de la base de support (38) étant reliée à la colonne vertébrale articulée (26) qui comprend les lames vertébrales (28b, 28c) multiples, et l'autre extrémité de la base de support (38) constituant une extrémité libre de la surface de support (44) ; et
    le mécanisme à ressort (40, 42) présente des propriétés de flexibilité telles que l'ensemble de support d'objet (24) adopte au repos un état déplié dans lequel la colonne vertébrale articulée (26) est sensiblement droite pour fournir une surface de support fermée (44) et, en réponse à une force de flexion appliquée de l'extérieur, adopte un état plié dans lequel la colonne vertébrale articulée (26) est courbée pour fournir une surface de support ouverte (44) levée et sensiblement horizontale sur laquelle un objet peut reposer.
     
    2. Meuble pliant selon la revendication 1, comprenant en outre une couche de surface non rembourrée (46') positionnée sur la surface de support pour fournir un plateau de table dur pour la surface de support.
     
    3. Meuble pliant selon la revendication 1, dans lequel la bande à ressort comprend un ressort plat non extensible (40, 42).
     
    4. Meuble pliant selon la revendication 1, dans lequel la bande à ressort constitue une première bande à ressort, et comprenant en outre une seconde bande à ressort présentant les mêmes propriétés élastiques que celles de la première bande à ressort et coopérant avec la première bande à ressort pour fixer ensemble, comme une unité flexible, la monture de support, la colonne vertébrale articulée et la base de support.
     
    5. Meuble pliant compact portable (10, 170) conçu pour un rangement pratique et comprenant un ensemble de support d'objet (24) comprenant une colonne vertébrale articulée (190, 190') positionnée entre une monture de support (36) et une base de support (38) et comprenant un mécanisme à ressort (192, 220 ; 192', 220'), dans lequel
    la colonne vertébrale articulée (190, 190') comprend des liaisons vertébrales multiples (192 ; 192') ayant des sections d'âme reliées entre elles (216), les liaisons vertébrales multiples (192 ; 192') confinant des éléments déformables élastiques (220, 220') pour former un mécanisme à ressort réparti intégré (192, 200' ; 192', 220'), la monture de support (36) et la base de support (38) étant couplées à la colonne vertébrale articulée (190, 190') de sorte que la monture de support (36), la colonne vertébrale articulée (190, 190') et la base de support (38) sont fixées ensemble comme une unité flexible ;
    la monture de support (36) peut être reliée de manière fonctionnelle à une structure de montage (12, 96, 152, 160, 172) ;
    la base de support (38) a des extrémités opposées entre lesquelles se trouve une surface de support (44), une extrémité de la base de support (38) étant reliée à la colonne vertébrale articulée (190, 190') et l'autre extrémité de la base de support (38) constituant une extrémité libre de la surface de support (44) ; et
    le mécanisme à ressort (192, 220 ; 192', 220') présente des propriétés de flexibilité telles que l'ensemble de support d'objet (24) adopte au repos un état déplié dans lequel la colonne vertébrale articulée (190, 190') est sensiblement droite pour fournir une surface de support fermée (44) et, en réponse à une force de flexion appliquée de l'extérieur, adopte un état plié dans lequel la colonne vertébrale articulée (190, 190') est courbée pour fournir une surface de support ouverte (44) levée et sensiblement horizontale sur laquelle un objet peut reposer.
     
    6. Meuble pliant selon la revendication 5, dans lequel les éléments déformables élastiques comprennent un matériau élastomère.
     
    7. Meuble pliant selon la revendication 1 ou la revendication 5, dans lequel l'ensemble de support d'objet, la monture de support, la base de support, la surface de support et la structure de montage constituent, respectivement, un ensemble de siège (24), une monture de siège (36), une base de siège (38), une surface d'assise et un dossier de siège (12), formant ainsi un siège pliant (10), et dans lequel le dossier de siège a une surface d'appui de dossier de siège (14), et comprenant en outre une première couche de mousse (22) positionnée entre la surface d'appui de dossier de siège et l'ensemble de siège pour fournir un rembourrage au dossier de siège.
     
    8. Meuble pliant selon la revendication 7, dans lequel la base de siège a une surface d'assise (44), et comprenant en outre une seconde couche de mousse (46) positionnée sur la surface d'assise pour fournir un rembourrage à la surface d'assise.
     
    9. Meuble pliant selon la revendication 1 ou la revendication 5, dans lequel l'ensemble de support d'objet, la monture de support, la base de support, la surface de support et la structure de montage constituent, respectivement, un ensemble de siège (24), une monture de siège (36), une base de siège (38), une surface d'assise et un dossier de siège (12), formant ainsi un siège pliant (10), et dans lequel le dossier de siège a une surface de montage de dossier de siège (16), et comprenant en outre un élément de montage (100) qui peut être accouplé à la structure de montage verticale (96, 160) pour fixer le dossier de siège dans un emplacement stationnaire.
     
    10. Meuble pliant selon la revendication 9, dans lequel l'élément de montage et la structure de montage verticale coopèrent pour fournir un angle d'inclinaison (72) pour le dossier de siège.
     
    11. Meuble pliant selon la revendication 1 ou la revendication 5, dans lequel l'ensemble de support d'objet, la monture de support, la base de support, la surface de support et la structure de montage constituent, respectivement, un ensemble de siège (24), une monture de siège (36), une base de siège (38), une surface d'assise et un dossier de siège (12), formant ainsi un siège pliant, et comprenant en outre un ensemble de pieds de chaise (122) relié de manière fonctionnelle à l'ensemble de siège et au dossier de siège pour former une chaise autoportante.
     




    Drawing















































































































    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description