An Autobiography of FloatawayPublished by Colin Stanwell-Smith on January 25, 2013
I was always interested in making things and taking things apart. So after A levels in Physics, Chemistry and Maths, I chose Mechanical Engineering at Bristol University, UK, My first floating experience was in an inflatable toy boat before I could swim, and it was another forty years before I made my own float tank.
In the meantime I invented a whole lot of things for other people as a consultant in Europe. These went from toys to nuclear bits and pieces. For example I invented a better filter coffee machine, an electron beam recording machine (the forerunner of the CD), an award winning range of wheeled steel containers, the current BT coin accepting telephone, stuff like that. My apprenticeship was firstly in Aircraft during the development of Concorde and then in a major consultancy where I became chairman of senior consultants and promptly left to do my own thing.
For a while I lectured on Newtonian mechanics, design, production and materials at Brunel University.
I read John Lilly, "Centre of the Cyclone" some time around 1976 but it was not until I was asked to make a float pool in a suitcase to use in hotels that I really latched onto floating. It was of course a crazy idea but I realised the products around then were, what shall I say, not really designed to appeal to the eye. By that time I had experience not only of production engineering but also product design and I felt I could contribute. When the time came for me to take the plunge into having my own product, in 1999, the float tank was my goal. I wanted a niche product, ethical, possible for a one man band and fun to design. With my wife Gini we sold the first one at the start of the millenium having literally hand made all the patterns, it is now called the Tranquility and we still sell it today.