BLED, Slovenia (Reuters Life!) - Peter Florjancic’s life has been anything but dull.
The sprightly 90-year inventor has earned and squandered millions, rubbed shoulders with celebrities and tycoons in post-World War Two Monte Carlo, and now works on a new project in this picturesque lake resort.
Florjancic is hardly a household name, but some of his inventions are still used, almost every day. “I have proved one can be mobile and active until the end. Look at me, I am 90 and still working,” the impeccably dressed Florjancic said as he demonstrated a series of exercises in a special medical bed he recently designed.
The bed, equipped with gadgets that allow the user to exercise arms, legs and the abdomen, has been mounted in most rooms of hotel Kompas, where he currently lives and works.
Another contraption is called ‘water paradise’ — a floating underwater fitness device in which up to six people sit and push underwater plastic pedals.
Both will be publicly promoted in the hotel on November 20.
“This should help attract visitors and make them stay here longer, rather than just visit. With these things, you can get healthy without aspirins or anything,” Florjancic said.
After moving from Switzerland to Monte Carlo in late 1940s, Florjancic designed the atomizer perfume bottles which the beauty industry still uses.
The invention earned him first prize from Parfumerie de France and a contract with perfume house Elizabeth Arden, and ensured a leisurely stay in Monte Carlo, a mecca for the world’s rich and famous in 1950s.
“You could see everyone there. Orson Welles, (Frank) Sinatra, Grace Kelly, Coco Chanel - she loved cocktails.”
Another well-known invention was the slide-holder for slide projectors, which sold millions.
In 1957 he designed a prototype of air bags but the car industry was not developed enough to embrace it. “At the time, they still did not have the materials and technique for that. This took another 30 years to develop.”
A machine for injecting plastic netted him a fee of 1.5 million German marks — a whopping sum in that day and age, which did not last long.
“I had seven houses and squandered them all... But I had a great time,” he said with a smile.
Florjancic, who had passports of five different countries, has patented around 400 inventions and sold 42 of them.
“There are millions of inventors like me. But I was fortunate to come up with products that can sell on the market.”
Another secret for his success was life in luxurious hotels.
“Factories regularly paid for my hotel rooms, so I can work in peace. And in the end, here I am back in a hotel.”
Reporting by Zoran Radosavljevic, Editing by Paul Casciato