Peter Florjančič was a native of Bled and symbolic of everything it stands for. Bled is very proud of its most famous inventor and his achievements, which have certainly changed and improved the world. Stories live on, and Peter Florjančič is a source of inspiration to everyone who has heard his story, even when at times it may very well sound like a motion picture from another time.
Peter Florjančič is one of the most famous Slovenian inventors and the only one who has made it his life’s profession. In 1957, he invented, although didn’t perfect, an automotive airbag. He is most proud of his invention the Monomat inkjet machine, which is now located in the Technical Museum in Munich. In the course of his lifetime, he has owned 43 cars and held five nationalities. His profession has forced him to spend 25 years in hotels, four years in cars, three years in trains, a year and a half in an aircraft and one year onboard a ship.
It all started way back in 1919 when he was born in the SHS Kingdom. Ivan Kenda, his uncle, was the owner of Bled Castle, the Castle swimming pool, Hotel Park and Lake Bled, and also had fishing rights for the Soča and Sava Bohinjka river. The biggest hotel and casino he owned was in Sofia, which happened to be Kemal Atatürk’s hiding place at the time. His uncle’s acquaintance with Atatürk was also the reason the founder of the Republic of Turkey once visited Bled and even the reason for the Orient Express stopping at Bled as a scenic pit stop and to let its haughty passengers sip some champagne.
Growing up, Peter Florjančič met almost the entire Karadjordjević family and as a child, he played the accordion, so when the Yugoslav queen visited Bled he played for her, fully attired in national costume, as a welcome. She showed him her appreciation by way of a kiss, and he can still remember how his ears flushed from embarrassment. He later finished at a textile school and worked in “Jugočeški”, quickly figuring out how much money weaving clothes brought and then starting to weave himself. He created a handloom out of wood that wove almost as fast as all the other hardware, then opened a weaving and textile plant and consequently became the youngest weaving master in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. At that time, he made his first sales invention: he weaved a scarf for the queen and later became the royal court supplier.
Kongres Magazine talked to the most famous Slovenian inventor 2017 about his inventions and his life journey.
Q: When did you start inventing and what was your first breakthrough?
“When I was a kid, I was a Tarzan. We were jumping from tree to tree and rolled around in mud and grass. My whole face was dirty from the mud – I cut a sock, put it on my hand and wiped my face with it and my face was clean again. Well, today the athletes use that “invention” to wipe the sweat from their face.”
“I invented the perfume bottle for women. What a woman carries in her purse is very interesting for an inventor. The first thing you should ask yourself is what market is right for you because the market is the most important thing.”
“The trick to conquering a woman is also an invention”
Q: How was it to grow up in Bled, a ‘mundane but prestigious destination’, almost a century ago?
“Bled and Opatija were sometimes similar to Monte Carlo, a mundane and prestigious destination. Most of the hotels in Bled were in my family’s ownership: the castle was owned by my uncle, my grandfather owned Hotel Triglav and Hotel Union, my mom owned Hotel Europa, Restaurant Savica, and Villa Ana, and my aunt owned Castle Jelovica. At that time, Bled was practically ours! When the king came to Bled, all the hotels were booked, not just for one day, but for the full three months.”
“Charlie Chaplin was my neighbour – We drank together and laughed!”
Q: Do you continue your quest for finding innovative solutions to modern problems?
“My wife had dementia and she sometimes wandered off. Then I made a folding birdhouse and put it on the window, so she could spend the whole day watching birds. Consequently, she never roamed anywhere ever again…”
Q: How can an inventor succeed and survive?
“The inventor must be calm, think a lot, go out and drink coffee and try not to worry if tomorrow he’ll have money for food. You are healthy only if your mind works all the time – from the moment he wakes up until he falls asleep. I have 80 years of service and was married to the same woman for 70 years. I lived in France, in the city of Montre, which is the most beautiful place in the world for me. Charlie Chaplin was my neighbour. We drank together and laughed!”