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Title:
FOLD-AWAY SEAT
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2009/104004
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention provides 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 (2) providing a surface on which a person can sit. The rear of the seat member (2) is pivoted to an anchor point (e.g. a wall (4)) via a hinge (3), while the front of the seat member (2) is pivoted via a hinge (1) to a support member having a flexible section (6) that flexes when the seat member (2) is deployed; the flexible member (6) supports the front of the seat member (2) and a person sitting on it.

Inventors:
FRIELING, Rombout ,Victor, Aernout, Quaestor Alting (Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU, GB)
Application Number:
GB2009/000501
Publication Date:
August 27, 2009
Filing Date:
February 20, 2009
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
ROYAL COLLEGE OF ART (Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU, GB)
FRIELING, Rombout ,Victor, Aernout, Quaestor Alting (Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU, GB)
International Classes:
A47C9/06; A47C1/121
Foreign References:
US2574302A1951-11-06
US20060022494A12006-02-02
US4087127A1978-05-02
GB1544139A1979-04-11
DE29904529U11999-08-05
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HEDLEY, Nicholas, James, Matthew (Kilbum & Strode LLP, 20 Red Lion Street, London WC1R 4PJ, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:

Claims

1. 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 comprising: a seat member providing a surface on which a person can sit when the seat is in the deployed configuration, which sitting surface has a front portion and a rear portion, the rear portion being pivotally connectable to a support, e.g. a wall; and a support member having a flexible section that is pivotally connected directly or indirectly to the seat member; and a lower section that is connected to the flexible section and that is configured to engage the ground wherein, in the storage configuration, the seat member and the support member are generally upright and the upright seat member lies face-to-face behind the upright support member and wherein in the deployed configuration, the pivoted seat member provides a seating surface and the flexible member, which acts between the ground and the seat member, has been flexed, whereby the flexed flexible member can support a person on the seat member.

2. A seat as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the flexible section and the lower section are integral with each other.

3. A seat as claimed in claim 1 or claim 2, wherein the configuration is such that, in the deployed configuration, the lower section lies horizontally on the ground.

4. A seat as claimed in any of claims 1 to 3, wherein the flexible section is pivotally connected directly or indirectly to the front portion of the seat member.

5. A seat as claimed in any of claims 1 to 4, which is biased to move from the deployed configuration to the storage configuration when there is no load on the seating surface.

6. A seat as claimed in claim 5, wherein the bias is provided by springs or by resilience in the flexible section.

7. A seat as claimed in any of claims 1 to 6, which includes a lock for retaining the seat in the deployed configuration.

8. A seat as claimed in claim 7, wherein the lock is formed by the support member being curved laterally, whereby the flexible member snaps into a stable shape when flexed to support the seat member in the deployed configuration.

9. A seat as claimed in any of claims 1 to 8, which includes a pair of arms one end of each of which is connected to the seat member or the support member, the arms lying on either side of the seat member when in the deployed configuration.

10. A seat as claimed in claim 8, wherein the arms are connected together via a back support at their ends remote from the support member.

11. A seat as claimed in any of claims 1 to 10, which is formed in one piece, e.g. by injection moulding or by cutting, folding or forming a sheet, the pivotal connection between the seat member and the support member being a live hinge.

12. A seat as claimed in any of claims 1 to 11 , wherein the support member and/or the seat member are reinforced with parts of the same or another material.

13. A seat as claimed in claim 12 wherein the reinforcements are spaced- apart elements formed on the concave face of the flexible section and wherein

the elements are spaced-apart when in the storage configuration and can abut each other when in the deployed configuration.

14. A seat as claimed in any of the claims 1 to 13, whereby one of more of its surfaces bears graphics or information, e.g. with advertisements.

Description:

Fold-Away Seat

Technical Field

The present invention relates to seats that can be folded away when not being used in order to save space.

Background

Folding seats typically comprise a structure that can be configured either in a storage configuration, in which the seat occupies little floor area but is unusable, or in a usable, deployed configuration in which the seat occupies more floor area but is usable. Usually, the transition between the two configurations requires a separate act of folding and unfolding.

Disclosure of the Invention This invention proposes a seat that can be deployed whilst a user sits down on it, i.e. the act of sitting down reconfigures the seat to a deployed configuration. This means that the act of folding/unfolding is harmoniously integrated in the act of sitting down, saving hassle and space to carry out this action. The invention allows the surface area needed to sit on and the surface area needed to sit down (usually in front of the area needed to sit on) to coincide.

The present invention provides 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 comprising: a seat member providing a surface on which a person can sit when the seat is in the deployed configuration, which sitting surface has a front portion and a rear portion, the rear portion being pivotally connectable to a support, e.g. a wall; and a support member for supporting the seat member and having: a flexible section that is pivotally connected directly or indirectly to the seat member, optionally to the front portion of the seat member; and

a lower section that is connected to the flexible section and that is configured to engage the ground.

In the storage configuration, the seat member and the support member are generally upright and the upright seat member lies face-to-face behind the upright support member; in the deployed configuration, the pivoted seat member provides a seating surface and the flexible member, which acts between the ground and the seat member, has been flexed, whereby the flexed flexible member can support a person on the seat member.

The flexible section and the lower section may be integral with each other so that the lower section in essence forms a ground-engaging part of the flexible section. However, the lower section may have a length and be such that, in the deployed configuration, it lies horizontally on the ground.

The seat may be biased to move from the deployed configuration to the storage configuration when there is no load on the seating surface so that it automatically folds way when there is no-one sitting on it. The bias may be provided by springs or simply by the resilience of the flexible section. However, to prevent a seat accidentally moving into the storage configuration a lock may be included for retaining the seat in the deployed configuration.. The lock may be a separate element or may be a locking action of the seat, e.g. resulting from the support member having a latitudinal curvature that, when in the deployed configuration, the flexible section cannot move the seat back to the storage configuration without some externally applied force.

The seat may include a pair of arms lying on either side of the seat member when in the deployed configuration; one end of each arm may be connected to the support member, so that the arms are deployed when the seat as a whole is moved to the deployed configuration. The other ends of the arms may be connected together via a back support.

The seat may be formed in one piece, e.g. by injection moulding or by cutting, folding or forming a sheet; the pivotal connection between the seat member and the support member may be a live hinge, i.e. a hinge formed by a

weakened/flexible part of the one-piece seat. The support member or the seat member may be reinforced with parts of the same or another material. For example, the flexible member may have elements that are spaced apart when the seat is in the folded away configuration but the flexing of the flexible section causes the spacing between these elements to decrease until adjacent elements abut each other when the seat is in the deployed configuration, which provides support and rigidity to the flexible member.

One of more of surfaces of the seat, especially the surfaces that are visible with the seat in the storage configuration, may bear information, graphics, advertisements or other readable or aesthetic material.

Brief Description of the Drawings

There will now be described by way of example only various embodiments of the present invention, by reference to the drawings in which:

Figures 1a and 1b are schematic views of a first embodiment of the invention in the folded-up and the deployed configurations respectively;

Figure 2a is a schematic view of a second embodiment of the invention in the folded-up configuration; Figures 3a and 3b are schematic views of a third embodiment of the invention in the folded-up and the deployed configurations respectively;

Figures 4a and 4b are schematic views of a fourth embodiment of the invention in the folded-up and the deployed configurations respectively and is similar to the first embodiment except that it includes reinforcement; and

Figures 5a and 5b show schematically the reinforcement of Figures 4a and 4b.

Detailed Description of the Invention Referring initially to Figures 1a and 1b, the seat of the present invention may move between an upright storage configuration (as illustrated in Figure 1a) and a deployed configuration (as illustrated in Figure 1b) in which it can support a person sitting on it. The seat has a seat member (2) providing a surface on which a person can sit when the seat is in the deployed

configuration. The rear portion of the sitting surface 2 is pivoted via a hinge 3 to an anchorage point, e.g. a wall (4) which is shown broken away in Figures 1a and 1b, while the front portion of the sitting surface (2) is pivoted via a second hinge 1 to a support member having a flexible section (6) and a lower ground-engaging section (5).

In the storage configuration (Figure 1a), the seat member (2) and the support member (5,6) are generally upright with the seat member lying face-to-face behind the upright support member (5,6). In the deployed configuration (Figure 1b), the pivoted seat member (2) provides a seating surface and is supported by the flexible member (6), which has been flexed and acts between the ground and the seat member. The flexed flexible member (6) can support the weight of a person (represented by the arrow in Figure 1 b) on the seat member (2). The seat can be deployed from the folded configuration of Figure 1a to the deployed configuration of Figure 1b by a person pressing down with their bottom on the top of the folded seat; this top is at or in the vicinity of where the seat member (2) and the support member (5,6) are joined by hinge (1). This action causes the seat member to pivot about the hinge (3) between the rear of the seat member (2) and the wall (4). The sitter can slide his bottom along the seat member (2) as it is gradually deployed until it reaches the horizontal, as shown in Figure 1b. The sitter can additionally use one or more hands to deploy, or help deploy, the seat member.

The flexible section (6) and the lower section (5) are integral with each other and the lower section, in deployed configuration, lies horizontally on the ground, as seen in Figure 1b.

The seat is biased to move from the deployed configuration (Figure 1b) to the storage configuration (Figure 1a) when there is no load on the seating surface (2), for instance by making use of the material resilience of the flexible section itself. The seat may include a lock for retaining the seat in the deployed configuration; this can be realised by bowing at least the flexible section (6) slightly (illustrated in Figure 2a) so that it snaps into a stable state in the deployed configuration when it has been flexed to a sufficient extent, and

cannot then move to the storage configuration without an external force being applied to it.

In a third embodiment (Figure 3a and 3b), the seat is provided with a pair of arms (7), lying on either side of the seat member (2); one end of each of the arms is connected to the support member (5,6), while the other ends are connected together via a seat back (8). The seat back is not fixed to the wall (4) but can slide up and down the wall when the seat moves between the storage configuration (Figure 3a) and the deployed configuration (Figure 3b).

The flexible section (6) may be provided with a series of reinforcements in the form of struts (7), which are shown in Figures 4a, 4b, 5a and 5b. In the storage configuration, the struts (7) are spaced apart from each other, as shown in Figures 4a and 5a, but when the flexible member is flexed in the deployed configuration, the spacing between the struts diminishes and, if flexed sufficiently, can abut against each other, as shown in Figures 4b and 5b. This action limits the degree of flexing of the flexible member and can provide stiffness to the seat, as well as reinforcement to the flexible section, when in the flexed condition.

The seat can be produced out of one piece e.g. by injection moulding or by cutting, folding or forming a sheet, in which case the hinges 1 and 3 providing pivotal connection between the seat member and the support member can be a live hinge. Alternatively, the seat may be made in two ore more separate parts that are joined together, e.g. the seat member (2) and the support member (5, 6) may be made separately and joined together by hinge (1). The seat or individual parts of the seat may be made of polypropylene. The flexible section must, of course, be flexible but the flexibility can arise from the use of a flexible material or strips of a rigid material connected together by flexible hinges. The choice of materials for the lower section 5 (if separate from the flexible section 6) and the seat member 2, is greater than for the flexible section 6. In one embodiment, the seat and/or individual parts, are made of fibre reinforced plastics, e.g. glass fibre reinforced plastics such as polypropylene. The plastics may be laminated.

Surfaces of the seat can be printed with information and graphics, e.g. with advertisements.