Office furniture abstract
A magnetic decorative cover for metal office furniture. The cover
is a lamination of a decorative layer to a magnetic sheet. The decorative
layer is selected from a wide variety of materials to provide a
desired appearance, to coordinate an office decor, or to blend office
furniture together. Suitable decorative materials include fabric,
vinyl, leather, wood veneer, marker-board surface, and high-pressure
laminate. In the preferred manufacturing method, the laminated materials
are laser cut and/or die cut to provide crisp, sharp, non-raveling
Office furniture claims
The invention claimed is:
1. An article of office furniture comprising: a metal office furniture
piece including a plurality of components each having dimensions,
one of said components including a physical feature; and a plurality
of magnetic decorative covers, each of said covers overlying and
attached to one of said components, each of said covers having dimensions
substantially the same as the dimensions of the component to which
the cover is attached, each of said covers comprising a magnetic
sheet and a decorative material, the decorative cover attached to
said one component defining a cutout aligned with said physical
2. The article of office furniture as defined in claim 1 wherein
said magnetic sheet is flexible.
3. The article of furniture as defined in claim 1 wherein one of
said decorative covers defines a cutout providing an aesthetic appearance
such as a logo.
Office furniture description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to metal office furniture, and more
particularly to decorative covers for metal office furniture.
Metal office furniture is one of the backbones of the office environment.
Exemplary pieces include file cabinets, desks, and drawer pedestals.
Metal office furniture is fabricated of steel and then painted,
making it both functional and durable.
Several negative issues are related to metal office furniture.
First, the appearance of such furniture typically is regarded as
tolerable rather than attractive. For example, a large bank of filing
cabinets presents a sea of uniform color, such as beige or gray.
Second, the colors with which the furniture is painted go out of
style. To change color, it is necessary either to purchase new furniture
or to repaint existing furniture. The first option is undesirably
expensive, and the second option is undesirably inconvenient.
Third, the finishes of metal furniture occasionally are scratched
or otherwise marred, so that they are unsightly. In such cases,
it is necessary to replace the furniture (or at least the damaged
components) or to repaint the furniture (or at least the damaged
Fourth, when an office buys additional or replacement office furniture,
one challenge is matching the color of the new office furniture
to the existing furniture. The new office furniture may be made
by a different manufacturer offering different colors, or may be
made by the same manufacturer no longer offering the old colors.
Even if a color is still made by the previous manufacturer, the
new office furniture may not match the existing furniture due to
fading, different dye runs of paint, or changes in the manufacturing
process, such as switching from a wet paint to a powdercoat.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The aforementioned problems are overcome by the present invention
that is a magnetic decorative cover for metal office furniture.
More specifically, the cover includes a decorative layer laminated
to a magnetic backing. The decorative layer may be fabric, vinyl,
leather, veneer, marker-board surface, high-pressure laminate, or
virtually any other material selected to provide a desired appearance.
The magnetic backing allows the cover to be easily, quickly, and
releasably attached to furniture. The covers may be easily removed
or changed without damaging the office furniture.
In the preferred embodiment, the cover is configured to match specific
office furniture elements such as flipper doors and/or drawer fronts
on filing cabinets. More specifically, the cover is dimensioned
to extend the full height and width of the component, so that little
or none of the underlying painted surface is exposed. Even more
specifically, the cover includes cut-outs configured to fit over
furniture components, such as drawer pulls and locks.
The present invention provides an office furniture cover that allows
a user to change the style, color and look of office furniture.
It also allows an office to update, replace, remodel, and buy additional
office furniture without worrying if the additional office furniture
will match the old office furniture. Therefore, an office may remodel,
add new furniture, or change the style of existing office furniture
at significant cost savings over buying new office furniture.
These and other objects, advantages, and features of the invention
will be more readily understood and appreciated by reference to
the detailed description of the preferred embodiment and the drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a file cabinet showing covers installed
on three drawers and one additional cover aligned for placement
on a fourth drawer;
FIG. 2 is a fragmentary sectional view taken along the line II--II
in FIG. 1; and
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a desk showing one cover installed
and one cover aligned for placement.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
A decorative office furniture cover constructed in accordance with
a preferred embodiment of the invention is shown in FIGS. 1 2 and
generally designated 10. The cover 10 includes a decorative layer
20 a magnetic backing 40 and an adhesive layer 30 interconnecting
the two. The cover 10 is designed for installation on an office
furniture element, such as the drawer front 110 of the filing cabinet
The decorative layer 20 is any material that provides the desired
aesthetic appearance in terms of color and texture. In the preferred
embodiment, the decorative layer 20 is a fabric, for example of
the type used in other office furniture applications such as upholstery.
Other suitable materials include leather, vinyl, wood veneer, and
marker-board surface. High-pressure laminates providing, for example,
marble or granite appearances may also be used. Additional materials
will be readily apparent to those skilled in the office furniture
The backing 40 is a flexible magnetic sheet of the type well known
in a variety of applications, such as refrigerator magnets, advertising
signs, vent covers, and labels. Flexible magnetic sheet material
is well known in the art and is made of a base ferrite powder combined
with a binder such as rubber, PVC, or other materials. Sheets having
a variety of magnetic, flexibility, and other properties are available
and will depend on the ferrite powders and binders used in fabricating
the sheets. Flexibility allows the cover 10 to be rolled, for example,
for shipping or storage. Flexibility also facilitates installation
of the cover onto the furniture.
The decorative layer 20 is laminated or adhered to the backing
40 by the adhesive layer 30 as shown in FIG. 2. Appropriate lamination
processes and equipment are well known to those skilled in the lamination
art, and will not be described here in detail. Similarly, appropriate
adhesives also are well known and will be selected to provide the
required binding strength between the decorative layer 20 and the
backing 40. Accordingly, the selected adhesive will depend in part
on the materials selected for the decorative layer 20 and the backing
The cover 10 is intended for installation on the drawer front 110
of the filing cabinet 10. The application alternatively could be
any article of metal office furniture, such as flipper doors, file
cabinets, overhead storage bins, other storage units, desks, and
bookshelves. The surface on which the cover is installed could be
virtually any metal component of the office furniture article. For
example, the component could be the curved pedestal 202 of the desk
200 illustrated in FIG. 3.
As seen in FIGS. 1 2 the cover is preferably dimensioned to cover
the entire surface of the component, for example the drawer front
110 on which it is installed. Specifically, the cover 10 extends
the full height and width of the drawer front 110 to provide the
most dramatic and effective change in the appearance of the cabinet
100. Although not illustrated, other components of the furniture
article (e.g. the side panels 120 and the base 130) can be covered
with differently sized covers. In that case, each cover preferably
extends the full height and width of the covered component.
The cover 10 also includes a cutout 50 aligned with the pull 14
so that the pull is clearly visible and accessible through the cover
10. Other functional cutouts (not shown) can be included as necessary
to accommodate other structural aspects of the component to be covered.
The cover 10 also can include one or more decorative cutouts 52.
As shown in the drawings, the cutout is a university or college
logo. Other options include, corporate names and logos, advertising,
and decorative designs. These cutouts permit the underlying color
of the office furniture to show through the decorative cover 10
to provide contrast with the decorative front 20. If that color
is not acceptable or appropriate, a small piece of colored material
(e.g. paper, plastic, or fabric--not shown) can be positioned on
the back surface of the cover to provide the desired contrast or
other aesthetic appearance through the cutouts. It also is contemplated
that contrasting or otherwise aesthetically pleasing inlays could
be placed within the cutouts.
II. Manufacture and Installation
The decorative layer 20 is laminated to the base sheet 40 using
well known processes and equipment. Typically, both materials are
purchased in roll form. Alternatively, either or both materials
may be purchased in sheet form. Sometimes, and as is customary in
the office furniture field, the customer will specify the material
(i.e. customer owned materials or COM) to be used as the decorative
layer 20. Sometimes, the material will be selected to match other
fabrics widely used in the office furniture market, for example,
for upholstery. Other times, the material will be selected to provide
appearances, for example, wood veneer, not typically associated
with metal office furniture.
The laminated sandwich then is cut to the desired dimensions. Typically,
these dimensions will correspond to the dimensions of components
of well known furniture articles. In other cases, the dimensions
will be dictated by a customer's specifications. Any suitable cutting
method can be used. Laser cutting is one preferred technique. Laser
cutting provides an extremely sharp or crisp edge. When the decorative
layer is a synthetic fabric, laser cutting prevents unraveling of
the cut edge because the fabric is melted and fused together.
Particularly when laser cutting is used, the cutting is computer
controlled. The templates are unique to each cover, and include
information regarding (1) the overall dimensions of the cover and
(2) functional or decorative cutouts in the cover. As noted above,
the templates can correspond to "stock" covers or they
can correspond to customer specified covers. In either case, the
template is stored for future access and use in case of subsequent
orders for the same cover. Using a computer template increases quality
and reduces necessary set-up time.
Die-cutting is another preferred technique. Die-cutting is believed
to be less expensive than laser cutting for relatively high-volume
runs of "stock" sizes. Particularly when die-cutting is
used, the fabric may be back-coated prior to lamination to reduce
unraveling after cutting. Back-coating is a well-known technique
for reducing the wear rate of the fabric and for preventing unraveling
of the fabric.
It also is contemplated that a single cover 10 may be both die-cut
(e.g. for overall size and cutouts to receive physical features
of the furniture) and laser cut (e.g. for sophisticated decorative
The decorative cover 10 is installed onto the office furniture
components by rolling the cover slightly, aligning one or more edges
of the cover with the component, and allowing the cover to unroll
and to attach to the component under the influence of the magnetic
The covers 10 can dramatically change the appearance of an article
of metal office furniture. Specifically, the covers convert painted
surfaces to surfaces having virtually any color and texture. As
noted above, the surfaces can be fabric, vinyl, veneer, or virtually
any other desired material--so long as that material is capable
of lamination to the magnetic sheet. The cover 10 also enables office
furniture of different colors to have an aesthetically consistent
appearance. The cover 10 further enables painted furniture to more
closely match other materials to provide a more consistent office
The above description is that of a preferred embodiment of the
invention. Various alterations and changes can be made without departing
from the spirit and broader aspects of the invention as defined
in the appended claims, which are to be interpreted in accordance
with the principles of patent law including the doctrine of equivalents.