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Title:
FURNITURE SYSTEM WITH LOCKING MECHANISM FOR TOOL-FREE ASSEMBLY
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/202388
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A furniture system (1) including a pair of furniture elements (2, 3) and a locking mechanism (4) is presented. The locking mechanism (4) further includes a lever (5) and a catch (7) which facilitate tool-free assembly of the furniture elements (2, 3). The lever (5) is rotatably attached to one furniture element (2) about a first center of rotation (6). The lever is rotatable between a locked position (10) and an unlocked position (9). The catch (7) is rotatably attached to the lever (5) about a second center of rotation (8). The second center of rotation (8) is rotatably disposed about the first center of rotation (6). The catch (7) contacts a lip (29) along another furniture element (3) to releasably secure the furniture elements (2, 3) in the locked position (10). The furniture system (1) may include any furniture type or design which requires assembly, either in part or whole, between two or more components.

Inventors:
GOLDBERG, Daniel (245 E 19th St, RM 4LNew York, NY, 10003, US)
MCCANN, Jedediah, J. (3422 NE Pacific Street, Portland, OR, 97232, US)
Application Number:
IB2019/000380
Publication Date:
October 24, 2019
Filing Date:
April 10, 2019
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
PLAYGROUND STORE LIMITED (Room 605, Mirror Tower61 Mody Road,Tsim Sha Tsui East, Hongkong, CN)
International Classes:
F16B12/00; A47B96/06; A47C7/42; E04B1/61
Domestic Patent References:
WO2002058510A12002-08-01
Foreign References:
GB2352766B2001-08-08
EP2786676A12014-10-08
CN202140387U2012-02-08
CN201691386U2011-01-05
US20100202852A12010-08-12
DE202016002581U12016-05-09
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A furniture system comprising:

(a) a first furniture element;

(b) a second furniture element; and

(c) a locking mechanism facilitating tool-free assembly between said first furniture element and said second furniture element, said locking mechanism includes:

(i) a lever rotatably attached to said first furniture element about a first center of rotation, said lever rotatable between an unlocked position and a locked position; and

(ii) a catch rotatably attached to said lever about a second

center of rotation, said second center of rotation rotatably disposed about said first center of rotation, said catch contacts a lip along said second furniture element to releasably secure said first furniture element with respect to said second furniture element at said locked position.

2. The furniture system of claim 1, wherein said lever rotatably attached to said first furniture element via a pin.

3. The furniture system of claim 2, wherein said pin passes through said lever and an anchor attached to said first furniture element.

4. The furniture system of claim 3, wherein said anchor includes a pair of side flanges disposed about said lever, said pin passes through said side flanges and said lever.

5. The furniture system of claim 2, wherein said pin contacts a notch along said catch at said locked position.

6. The furniture system of claim 1, wherein said catch rotatably attached to said lever via a pin.

7. The furniture system of claim 1, wherein a locking force is applied by said catch onto said lip at said locked position, said locking force resists separation between said first furniture element and said second furniture element.

8. The furniture system of claim 1, further comprising:

(d) a spring disposed between said lever and a flange disposed along said first furniture element.

9. The furniture system of claim 8, wherein said spring disposed about a pin which passes through said lever and said flange.

10. The furniture system of claim 8, wherein said spring positions said lever with respect to said first furniture element.

11. The furniture system of claim 1, further comprising:

(d) a spring disposed between said lever and said catch.

12. The furniture system of claim 11, wherein said spring disposed about a pin which passes through said lever and said catch.

13. The furniture system of claim 11, wherein said spring positions said catch with respect to said lever.

14. The furniture system of claim 1, wherein said lever and said catch cooperate to define an opening therebetween, a center flange disposed along said first furniture element extends into said opening at said locked position.

15. The furniture system of claim 1, wherein one of said first furniture element and said second furniture element is a leg, another of said first furniture element and said second furniture element is a tabletop.

16. The furniture system of claim 1, wherein one of said first furniture element and said second furniture element is a leg, another of said first furniture element and said second furniture element is a foot rotatably attached to one end of said leg.

17. The furniture system of claim 1, wherein said first furniture element is rotatably attached to said second furniture element.

18. The furniture system of claim 1, wherein said furniture system is a desk.

19. The furniture system of claim 1, wherein said furniture system is a table.

20. The furniture system of claim 1, wherein said furniture system is a chair.

21. The furniture system of claim 1, wherein said furniture system is a bookcase.

22. The furniture system of claim 1, wherein said furniture system is a cabinet.

23. The furniture system of claim 1, wherein said furniture system is a shelf.

Description:
Furniture System with Locking Mechanism for Tool -Free Assembly

DESCRIPTION

1. Technical Field

The invention generally relates to a furniture system composed of two or more pieces requiring assembly in part or whole and more particularly is concerned, for example, with improvements which facilitate an assembly solution for furniture implemented by a tool-free locking mechanism.

2. Background Art

A variety of furniture requiring assembly, one non-limiting example being flat-pack furniture, are known within the related arts. Some forms of fast-assembly furniture require one or more tools for assembly purposes. Other forms of fast- assembly furniture include a locking means which secure one element to another element, one non-limiting example being a leg to a tabletop within a desk and another non-limiting example being a horizontal panel to a vertical panel within a bookshelf. Known locking means often allow for some degree of relative motion between the secured elements thereby permitting instabilities, examples including but not limited to rocking, vibrations and wobble, which over time degrade the structural integrity of the furniture in its assembled form.

Accordingly, what is required is an improvement to furniture which avoids one or more causes of instabilities whereby the improvement facilitates structurally stable furniture which is quickly and easily assembled without tools or the like.

3. Disclosure of the Invention

An object of the invention is to provide an improvement to furniture which avoids one or more causes of instabilities whereby the improvement facilitates structurally stable furniture which is quickly and easily assembled without tools or the like.

In accordance with an embodiment of the invention, the furniture system includes a first furniture element, a second furniture element, and a locking mechanism facilitating tool-free assembly between the first furniture element and the second furniture element. The locking mechanism further includes a lever and a catch. The lever is rotatably attached to the first furniture element about a first center of rotation between an unlocked position and a locked position. The catch is rotatably attached to the lever about a second center of rotation. The second center of rotation is rotatably disposed about the first center of rotation. The catch contacts a lip along the second furniture element to releasably secure the first furniture element with respect to the second furniture element when the lever is at the locked position.

In accordance with other embodiments of the invention, the lever is rotatably attached to the first furniture element via a pivot pin.

In accordance with other embodiments of the invention, the pivot pin passes through the lever and an anchor attached to the first furniture element.

In accordance with other embodiments of the invention, the anchor includes a pair of side flanges disposed about the lever. The pivot pin passes through the side flanges and the lever.

In accordance with other embodiments of the invention, the pivot pin contacts a notch along the catch when the locking mechanism is disposed at the locked position.

In accordance with other embodiments of the invention, the catch is rotatably attached to the lever via a pivot pin.

In accordance with other embodiments of the invention, a locking force is applied by the catch onto the lip at the locked position whereby the locking force resists separation between the first furniture element and the second furniture element.

In accordance with other embodiments of the invention, a spring is disposed between the lever and a flange along the first furniture element.

In accordance with other embodiments of the invention, the spring is disposed about a pivot pin which passes through the lever and the flange.

In accordance with other embodiments of the invention, the spring positions the lever with respect to the first furniture element.

In accordance with other embodiments of the invention, a spring is disposed between the lever and the catch.

In accordance with other embodiments of the invention, the spring is disposed about a pivot pin which passes through the lever and the catch.

In accordance with other embodiments of the invention, the spring positions the catch with respect to the lever.

In accordance with other embodiments of the invention, the lever and the catch cooperate to define an opening therebetween whereby a center flange disposed along the first furniture element extends into the opening at the locked position.

In accordance with other embodiments of the invention, one of the first furniture element and the second furniture element is a leg and another of the first furniture element and the second furniture element is a tabletop.

In accordance with other embodiments of the invention, one of the first furniture element and the second furniture element is a leg and another of the first furniture element and the second furniture element is a foot rotatably attached to one end the leg.

In accordance with other embodiments of the invention, the first furniture element is rotatably attached to the second furniture element.

In accordance with other embodiments of the invention, the furniture system is a desk.

In accordance with other embodiments of the invention, the furniture system is a table.

In accordance with other embodiments of the invention, the furniture system is a chair.

In accordance with other embodiments of the invention, the furniture system is a bookcase.

In accordance with other embodiments of the invention, the furniture system is a cabinet.

In accordance with other embodiments of the invention, the furniture system is a shelf.

Several advantages of the invention include, but are not limited to, the following. The invention provides two-step functionality whereby a locking mechanism in the first step grabs a furniture element and the locking mechanism in the second step secures the furniture element to another furniture element. The invention provides a configure/use solution after removal from a shipping box whereby adjoining elements comprising a furniture system are releasably fixable to form a structurally stable assembly. The invention facilitates multiple assembly and disassembly cycles while achieving a fit and finish typically associated with factory assembled furniture. The invention achieves a stable and durable solution compatible with fast-assembly furniture. The above and other objectives, features, and advantages of the preferred embodiments of the invention will become apparent from the following description read in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference numerals designate the same or similar elements.

4. Brief Description of the Drawings

Additional aspects, features, and advantages of the invention will be understood and will become more readily apparent when the invention is considered in the light of the following description made in conjunction with the accompanying drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view illustrating a furniture system including a furniture element, namely, a leg, and another furniture element, namely, a tabletop, secured via a locking mechanism in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a partial exploded view illustrating a locking mechanism including a lever and a catch attached to one furniture element via an anchor and a lip extending from another furniture element whereby the catch is arranged to engage and to disengaged the lip so as to releasably secure one furniture element to the other furniture element in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 3 is an cross section view illustrating arrangement between a lever, a catch, and an anchor whereby the lever is rotatably secured to a side flange along the anchor via a pivot pin and the catch is rotatable secured to the lever via another pivot pin so that the catch is movable via the lever so as to either unlock or lock one furniture element with respect to another furniture element in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 4a is a side view with partial cross section illustrating arrangement between one furniture element with a locking mechanism attached thereto and another furniture element in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 4b is a side view with partial cross section illustrating arrangement between the furniture elements in FIG. 4a whereby the furniture elements are configured so that the locking mechanism attached to one furniture element slidingly contacts another furniture element in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 4c is a side view with partial cross section illustrating arrangement between the furniture elements in FIG. 4a whereby the furniture elements are configured so that a catch portion of the locking mechanism attached to one furniture element hookingly contacts a lip along another furniture in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 4d is a side view with partial cross section illustrating arrangement between the furniture elements in FIG. 4a whereby the furniture elements are configured so that a catch portion of the locking mechanism attached to one furniture element lockingly contacts a lip along another furniture element when the locking mechanism is disposed in a locked position in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 5a is a cross section view illustrating arrangement between a pair of exemplary generalized furniture elements whereby the furniture elements are secured via a locking mechanism and the furniture elements are rotatably attached via an optional hinge disposed along the outside of a corner between the furniture elements in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 5b is a cross section view illustrating arrangement between a pair of exemplary generalized furniture elements whereby the furniture elements are secured via a locking mechanism and the furniture elements are rotatably attached via an optional hinge disposed along the inside of a corner between the furniture elements in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view illustrating an optional spring whereby the spring is disposed between a lever of a locking mechanism and a side flange (partially shown) and the spring is disposed about a pivot pin (not shown) which passes through the lever and the side flange in accordance with an embodiment of the invention; and

FIG. 7 is a partial-exploded perspective view illustrating an optional spring whereby the spring is disposed between a lever and a catch of a locking mechanism and the spring is disposed about a pivot pin which passes through the lever and the catch (the latter not shown) in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

5. Modes for Carrying Out the Invention

Reference will now be made in detail to embodiments of the invention that are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. Wherever possible, same or similar reference numerals are used in the drawings and the description to refer to the same or like parts. The drawings are in simplified form and are not necessarily to precise scale. While features of various embodiments are separately described herein, it is understood that such features may be combinable to form other additional embodiments.

Referring now to FIG. 1, the furniture system 1 includes a pair of furniture elements 2, 3 releasbly securable via a locking mechanism 4. In the assembled form, the locking mechanism 4 ensures the furniture elements 2, 3 are held together and properly oriented. Non-limiting examples of the furniture elements 2, 3 may be a tabletop 23 and a leg 22. With regard to the example elements, the locking mechanism 4 secures the tabletop 23 and the leg 22 in an assembled form to properly fix and orient the respective components. In other embodiments, a locking mechanism 4 may secure such elements as a leg 22 and a foot 43.

Referring again to FIG. 1, the locking mechanism 4 is lockable and unlockable. When the locking mechanism 4 is locked, it resists unlocking and separation between the furniture elements 2, 3. When the locking mechanism 4 is unlocked, it permits the furniture elements 2, 3 to be separated or configured to another form, non-limiting examples of the latter including a collapsed configuration or a shape conducive to flat-pack shipping or the like.

Referring now to FIG. 2, the locking mechanism 4 may include a lever 5 and a catch 7 rotatably attached to the desktop 2. In preferred embodiments, the lever 5 is generally U-shaped and the catch 7 is generally elongated. In other preferred embodiments, an anchor 13 is secured to one furniture element 2 and the lever 5 and the catch 7 are rotatably secured to the anchor 13. A base 30 along the anchor 13 may be either directly or indirectly attached to the furniture element 2 via mechanical fasteners, adhesive, or other suitable means understood in the art. The anchor 13 may include a pair of side flanges 14 which extend from the base 30 and outward along the furniture element 2. An optional center flange 15 may extend from the base 30 between the side flanges 14.

Referring again to FIG. 2, the lever 5 may be attached to the anchor 13 via a pin 11. In preferred embodiments, the pin 11 passes through a pair of openings 27 along the anchor 13 and through a pair of openings 28 along the lever 5. In other preferred embodiments, the lever 5 is secured to the anchor 13 so that the pin 11 engages an opening 27 along one side flange 14, an opening 28 along one side of the U-shaped lever 5, another opening 28 along another side of the U-shaped lever 5, and another opening 27 along another side flange 14. The lever 5 is disposed between the side flanges 14 when rotatably attached to the anchor 13.

Referring again to FIG. 2, the catch 7 may be attached to the lever 5 via a pin 16. In preferred embodiments, the pin 16 passes through a pair of openings 26 along the lever 5 and an opening 25 along the catch 7. In other preferred embodiments, the pin 16 engages an opening 26 along one side of the U-shaped lever 5, an opening 25 through the catch 7, and an opening 26 along another side of the U-shaped lever 5. The catch 7 is disposed between the arms of the U-shaped lever 5 when rotatably attached to the lever 5.

Referring again to FIG. 2, a lip 29 may extend from the furniture element 3. The lip 29 is understood to broadly include a structure engagable and disengagable by the catch 7. In some embodiments, the lip 29 may be a part of the furniture element 3. In other embodiments, the lip 29 may secured either directly or indirectly to the furniture element 3 via mechanical fasteners, adhesive, or other suitable means understood in the art. The lip 29 is positioned long the furniture element 3 and the catch 7 is positioned along the furniture element 2 adjacent to the lip 29. In preferred embodiments, the locking mechanism 4 is centered with respect to the lip 29.

Referring now to FIG. 3, the locking mechanism 4 is fixed or anchored to the furniture element 2 via the anchor 13. The side flanges 14 and the center flange 15 extend from the base 30 and away from the furniture element 2. In preferred embodiments, the side flanges 14 and the center flange 15 are disposed perpendicular with respect to the base 30. The pin 11 passes through each side flange 14 and the lever 5 so that the lever 5 is rotatable about a center of rotation 6. This arrangement permits the lever 5 to rotate clockwise and counterclockwise with respect to at least the side flanges 14. The pin 16 passes through the lever 5 and the catch 7 so that the catch 7 is rotatable about another center of rotation 8. This arrangement permits the catch 7 to rotate clockwise and counterclockwise with respect to the lever 5 and other components. The assembled form permits the lever 5 and the catch 7 to be movable within the locking mechanism 4.

Referring again to FIG. 3, the centers of rotation 6, 8 are offset so that the center of rotation 8 is movable about the center of rotation 6, the latter fixed to the anchor 13. This arrangement permits the one center of rotation 8 to be rotatably disposed, at least in part, about the other center of rotation 6. In preferred embodiments, the center of rotation 8 traverses a path, either in part or whole, between the furniture element 2 and the center of rotation 6.

Referring again to FIGS. 2 and 3, the locking mechanism 4 is configured to include one or more features which allow the catch 7 to engage with and disengage from the lip 29. In preferred embodiments, a hook 12 may extend from one end of the catch 7 opposite from the end rotatably secured to the lever 5. The hook 12 is configured to grasp and to release the lip 29 as required. In other embodiments, the catch 7 may include an opening 36, see FIG. 7, or other similar feature so as to minimize lockup between the catch 7 and the lip 29. In yet other embodiments, the lever 5 and the catch 7 may cooperate to form an opening 21 therebetween which permits the lever 5 to rotate into a position about the center flange 15. It might be advantageous in some other embodiments for the lever 5 and/or the catch 7 to contact the center flange 15 adjacent to the opening 21 so as to lock the lever 5 in place when disposed in an orientation that biases the lever 5 toward the furniture element 2 or so as to secure the lever 5 in a locked position.

Referring again to FIG. 3, the catch 7 may include an optional notch 18. The notch 18 is disposed along the catch 7 so as engage the pin 11 when the locking mechanism 4 is locked and so as to disengage the pin 11 when the locking mechanism 4 is unlocked. In preferred embodiments, contact between the notch 18 and the pin 11 and orientation between the pin 11 and the pin 16 at a locked position should resist movement by the lever 5 and/or the catch 7 which could inadvertently unlock the locking mechanism 4.

Referring now to FIGS. 4a-4d, a single locking mechanism 4 may be employed to releasably secure a pair of furniture elements 2, 3 so as to permit assembly and disassembly of a furniture system 1. In other embodiments, it might be advantageous for two or more locking mechanisms 4 to facilitate attachment and detachment functionality for assembly and disassembly between a pair of furniture elements 2, 3.

Referring now to FIG. 4a, the furniture elements 2, 3 are generally configured in an unlocked position 9 when one furniture element 2 or 3 is translatable and/or rotatable, the latter via a hinge 24 or the like, with respect to another furniture element 3 or 2. In some embodiments, the catch 7 may not contact the lip 29 in the unlocked position 9 as illustrated in FIG. 4a. In others embodiments, the unlocked position 9 may permit the furniture elements 2, 3, to remain in contact as illustrated in FIG. 4a. In yet other embodiments, the unlocked position 9 may include contact between the catch 7 and the furniture element 3 as illustrated in FIG. 4b or contact between the catch 7 and the lip 29 when the lever 5 is not disposed in a locked orientation as illustrated in FIG. 4c. In still other embodiments, the unlocked position 9 may allow the furniture elements 2, 3 to completely separate so that there is no direct or indirect physical contact therebetween.

Referring again to FIG. 4a, the locking mechanism 4 may be oriented so that the catch 7 is biased toward the furniture element 3 and the lever 5 is biased away from the furniture element 2. The pin 16 may be offset to the right of and below the second pin 11.

Referring now to FIG. 4b, the catch 7 may slidingly engage the furniture element 3 adjacent to the lip 29 before the furniture elements 2, 3 are locked. The lever 5 and the latch 7 may move about their respective pins 11, 16 to accommodate positioning between the furniture elements 2, 3 as required to facilitate the locking process. When one end of a furniture element 3 is rotatably attached via a hinge 24 to another furniture element 2, the lever 5 and the catch 7 may rotate as required when contacted by the furniture element 3 so that the locking mechanism 4 does not impede the locking process.

Referring now to FIG. 4c, the catch 7 may engage and overlay the lip 29 when the furniture element 3 is properly positioned with respect to the other furniture element 2. This arrangement may require the lever 5 and the catch 7 to rotate toward the furniture element 3. In some embodiments, the lever 5 and/or the catch 7 may automatically rotate into position via springs or the like. In other embodiments, the lever 5 and/or the catch 7 may be manually rotated into proper position by a user. The lever 5 is biased away from the furniture element 2 and the notch 18 does not engage the pin 11. Thereafter, the lever 5 may be rotated in the direction of the furniture element 2 to complete the locking process.

Referring now to FIG. 4d, the locking mechanism 4 is in the locked position 10 when the catch 7 contacts the lip 29 and the lever 5 is disposed in a locked orientation with respect to the furniture element 2. This arrangement generally positions a handle portion of the lever 5 closer to the furniture element 2 than otherwise shown in FIGS. 4a-4c. In comparison, the handle portion is more angled with respect to the furniture element 2 as illustrated in FIGS. 4a-4c when the locking mechanism 4 is configured to be unlocked. In some embodiments, the pin 16 may be disposed below and nearly vertically aligned with the pin 11. In preferred

embodiments, the pin 16 is slightly offset to the left of the pin 11 as illustrated in FIG. 4d. In other embodiments, the notch 18 may contact the pin 11. The locking mechanism 4 and the hinge 24 cooperate to fix the furniture elements 2, 3 to each other; although, it is understood that the hinge 24 may be replaced by another locking mechanism 4 or other fastening means in other embodiments.

Referring again to FIGS. 4a-4d, the catch 7 may be designed so that it elastically elongates or elastically deforms between the positions illustrated in FIGS. 4c and 4d. For example, the catch 7 may lengthen as the lever 5 is rotated toward the furniture element 2 and then partially or completely returns to its original length and/or shape at the locked position 10. In one non-limiting example, the catch 7 may be composed of a plastic or other suitable material which stretches and yet recovers its original length in part or whole. In another non-limiting example, the catch 7 may be composed of a metal which is curved or otherwise shaped so as to elastically straighten and then recovers its original bowed shape. Regardless, the catch 7 is understood to elastically change in some fashion during the transition from an unlocked configuration to a locked configuration and then to elastically recover its original form in part or whole in the locked configuration.

Referring again to FIGS. 4a-4d, the catch 7 may or may not impose an immediate locking force 17 onto the furniture element 3 at the locked position 10. If the catch 7 is permitted to partially recover its original length, then the catch 7 immediately communicates a locking force 17 onto the furniture element 3 adjacent to the lip 29 generally directed toward the furniture element 2. In these embodiments, the elastic recovery property of the catch 7 pulls the catch 7 into the lip 29. If the catch 7 completely recovers its original length, the catch 7 does not immediately communicate a locking force 17 except that it would do so whenever the furniture element 3 pulls away or separates from the furniture element 2. In some

embodiments, the locking force 17 may cooperate with the notch 18 and the pin 11 and/or the offset between the pin 11 and the pin 16 to prevent separation in part or whole between the furniture elements 2, 3 when the locking mechanism 4 is configured in the locked position 10. Referring again to FIGS. 4a-4d, it is preferred that the catch 7 pivots about the pin 11 during which the catch 7 stretches or lengths to some degree before the lever 5 is positioned so as to be locked. In these embodiments, the position at which the tension is maximal within the catch 7 is just prior to the locked position 10 of the lever 5. It is also understood in these embodiments, that at least a portion of the maximal tension within the catch 7 remains when the lever 5 is fully locked so as to apply a closing force 17 onto the furniture element 3. The closing force 17 must be negated in order for the furniture elements 2, 3 to separate when the locking mechanism 4 is configured in the locked position 10.

Referring again to FIGS. 4a-4d, the furniture elements 2, 3 are released or unlocked by reversing the steps otherwise described for locking. For example, the lever 5 in FIG. 4d is rotated away from the furniture element 2, the hook 12 in FIG. 4c is separated from the lip 29, the furniture elements 2, 3 in FIG. 4b are separated, and the furniture element 3 in FIG. 4a is separated from the catch 7.

It is understood that reference to specific examples of furniture elements 2, 3 herein is not intended to limit the scope of the invention as the furniture elements 2, 3 may be parts, components, and/or subcomponents which are joinable/separable so as to facilitate assembly and disassembly of a furniture system 1. Generalized forms of furniture elements 37, 38 are illustrated in FIGS. 5a, 5b by way of example only. Therefore, a furniture element 37 or 38 may include such non-limiting examples as a panel, a leg, a foot, a support surface, a seat, a shelf, a door, a support structure, a component, and a subcomponent, which when assembled with another furniture element 38 or 37 form a furniture system 1 in part or whole, non-limiting examples of furniture systems 1 including a structure forming part or whole of a desk, a chair, a cabinet, a table, a bookcase, and a shelf. A locking mechanism 4 secures the furniture elements 37, 38 via interaction between a catch 7, operable via a lever 5, and a lip 29 or the like as described herein. The furniture elements 37, 38 may further include an optional hinge 24 or the like.

In some embodiments, it may be advantageous to include one or more biasing means for orienting the lever 5 and/or the catch 7 in a preferred arrangement.

Referring now to FIG. 6, a spring 19 may be positioned between the lever 5 and one or each side flange 14 so as to bias the lever 5 in an unlocked position 9 with respect to the furniture element 2. The spring 19 may include a pair of arms 39, 40. Each arm 39, 40 may extend outward from the spring 19 so as to permit contact with features of the lever 5 and the anchor 13 adjacent to the spring 19. For example, one arm 40 may engage a hole 32 along or near the side flange 14 so as to fix the spring 19 at one end to the anchor 13. In another example, another arm 39 may engage a recess 31 along the side of the lever 5 so as to fix the spring 19 at another end to the lever 5. In preferred embodiments, the center portion of the spring 19 is disposed about the opening 28 so that the pin 11 (not shown) passes through the spring 19 between the lever 5 and the side flange 14. The circular center portion of the spring 19 is disposed about the pin 11.

Referring again to FIG. 6, the angular orientation between the arms 39, 40 determines the initial position of the lever 5 with respect to the anchor 13. For example, a nearly perpendicular arrangement between the arms 39, 40 as attached to the hole 32 and the recess 31, such as illustrated in FIG. 6, causes the lever 5 to be oriented upright with respect to the base 30. Other orientations are possible. Further, the catch 7 is biased in the direction of the furniture element 3 because of the rotatable joint formed by the pin 16 between the lever 5 and the catch 7. The spring 19 imparts a force onto the lever 5 when the lever 5 is rotated in the direction of the center flange 15 and toward the furniture element 2. This force causes the lever 5 to rotate in the bias direction 33 so as to return to its initial position after the locking mechanism 4 is unlocked. The spring 19 would also impart a force onto the lever 5 when the lever 5 is rotated in the direction away from the center flange 15 and the furniture element 2. This force would cause the lever 5 to rotate opposite to the bias direction 33 so as to return to its initial position.

Referring now to FIG. 7, a spring 20 may be positioned between the lever 5 and one or each side of the catch 7 so as to bias the orientation of the catch 7 with respect to the lever 5. The spring 20 may include a pair of arms 41, 42. Each arm 41, 42 may extend outward from the spring 20 so as to permit contact with features of the catch 7 and the lever 5 adjacent to the spring 20. For example, one arm 41 may engage a first recess 34 along the outside of catch 7 so as to fix the spring 20 at one end to the catch 7. In another example, another arm 42 may engage a second recess 35 along the inside of the lever 5 so as to fix the spring 20 to an arm of the lever 5. In preferred embodiments, the center portion of the spring 20 is disposed about the opening 25 and the opening 26 so that the pin 16 passes through the spring 20 between the lever 5 and the catch 7. The circular center portion of the spring 20 is disposed about the pin 16.

Referring again to FIG. 7, the angular orientation between the arms 41, 42 determines the initial position of the catch 7 with respect to the lever 5. For example, a nearly perpendicular arrangement between the arms 41, 42 as attached to the recesses 34, 35, such as illustrated in FIG. 7, causes the catch 7 to be nearly perpendicular with respect to the lever 5. Other orientations are possible. The spring 20 would impart a force onto the catch 7 when the catch 7 is rotated in the direction of the handle portion of the lever 5. This force causes the catch 7 to rotate in the bias direction 44 so as to return to its initial position. The spring 20 would also impart a force onto the catch 7 when the catch 7 is rotated away from the handle portion of the lever 5. This force causes the catch 7 to rotate opposite to the bias direction 44 so as to return to its initial position.

The description above indicates that a great degree of flexibility is offered in terms of the invention. Although various embodiments have been described in considerable detail with reference to certain preferred versions thereof, other versions are possible. Therefore, the spirit and scope of the appended claims should not be limited to the description of the preferred versions contained herein

6. Industrial Applicability

As is evident from the description herein, the invention in its various embodiments is applicable to a variety of furniture types for use in residential, commercial, industrial, and the like settings, non-limiting examples including desks, chairs, cabinets, tables, bookcases, and shelves.