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 embodiments of the invention in which and exclusive property
or privilege is claimed are defined as follows:
1. A decorative cover for metal office furniture comprising: a
magnetic sheet; a decorative layer laminated to said magnetic sheet
to form a lamination dimensioned to cover a metal office furniture
component, said lamination defining an aperture.
2. The decorative cover of claim 1 wherein said aperture is dimensioned
to correspond to a physical feature of the furniture component.
3. The decorative cover of claim 1 wherein said magnetic sheet
4. The decorative cover of claim 1 wherein said decorative layer
is selected from one of fabric, vinyl, leather, veneer, marker-board
surface, and high-pressure laminate.
5. An article of office furniture comprising: a metal office furniture
piece including at least one component; and a magnetic decorative
cover overlying substantially all of and attached to said component.
6. The article of office furniture in claim 5 wherein said decorative
cover includes a magnetic sheet and a decorative material laminated
to said sheet.
7. The article of office furniture in claim 6 wherein said decorative
material is selected from one of fabric, vinyl, leather, veneer,
marker-board surface, and high-pressure laminate.
8. The article of office furniture in claim 6 wherein said magnetic
sheet is flexible.
9. The article of furniture in claim 5 wherein said decorative
cover defines a cutout for providing access to a physical feature
of the furniture component.
10. The article of furniture in claim 5 wherein said decorative
cover defines a cutout for providing an aesthetic appearance such
as a logo.
11. A method for altering the appearance of metal office furniture
comprising the steps of: providing a magnetic decorative cover having
dimensions substantially the same as a component of the metal office
furniture; aligning the cover with the component; allowing the aligned
cover to magnetically adhere to the component to substantially cover
the entire component.
12. The method in claim 11 wherein said providing step includes
providing the cover with a cutout aligned with a physical feature
of said component when said cover is aligned with said component.
13. A method of manufacturing a decorative cover for metal office
furniture comprising the steps of: laminating a decorative layer
to a magnetic sheet to form a lamination; and cutting the lamination.
14. The method in claim 13 wherein said cutting step includes cutting
the lamination to desired overall dimensions for the cover.
15. The method of claim 13 wherein said cutting step includes cutting
cutouts in the lamination within the overall dimensions of the cover.
16. The method of claim 13 wherein said cutting step includes at
least one of laser cutting and die-cutting.
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
 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
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
 I. Construction
 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
 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
 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.