When I was a kid, I read about the Count Saint-Germain in one of my uncle’s Time/Life “Paranormal Phenomena” books that, in retrospect, he only kept around to roll joints on. The Count had supposedly been born in the time of Christ, and was still around in the 1700s, rubbing elbows with Voltaire and Casanova, and looking no older than 45. His secret? A diet of nothing but oatmeal. As a diet, it sounds dreadfully boring, but I’m pretty sure I’d bite the proverbial bullet if it allowed me to do pushups on the graves of my rivals, decades from now, with a head of still-lush hair and a face plump with collagen. What I’m not sure I would do for immortality, is live in these trippy, garish Reversible Destiny homes, which claim to slow or even reverse aging.
The lofts (which are in Tokyo) and the house (in East Hampton, Long Island) were designed by the Reversible Destiny Foundation, the brainchild of a Japanese artist and an American poet. The Foundation’s stated goal is to “reverse the downhill course of human life.” The nine Tokyo lofts (some of which you can rent out for vacations, by the way), built in 1995, operate on two main principles: stimulation and discomfort.
The homes are painted in bright colors, and designed so that wherever you look, you’ll see multiple colors simultaneously. Light switches and outlets are hidden on the ceiling or in random outcrops, the space is randomly divided by poles, and the concrete floor is riddled with pits and bumps, to keep you off balance. (One of Reversible Destiny’s foundational beliefs is that “comfort equals death.” I guess that explains why I feel so vibrant and alive after flying coach.) But no one said immortality was risk-free; one of their first projects, a small park in Tokyo, featured their trademark uneven concrete flooring, and resulted in several broken bones.
Reversible Destiny homes have no doors and an open floor plan – which, interestingly, is backed up by recent findings that socially engaged people live longer – and are laid out in a deliberately maze-like arrangement, so you’ll never get into a comfortable routine. Immortality is cool, but it also sounds kind of annoying. But if the Tokyo lofts were Reversible Destiny’s first tentative foray into homebuilding, the foundation’s crown jewel is the Bioscleave House, a “life extending villa” in Long Island.
The floor of the Bioscleave House features undulating concrete drifts dimpled with bumps; there are colored metal poles to use as handholds when you move across the room. The space is broken up by random plastic barriers, and the sunken kitchen is in the center of the house. While there are rooms, there are no real doors (or privacy).
One of the co-founders of Reversible Destiny told the New York Times that moving through treacherous spaces kept people “tentative” and therefore young, and “improved their immune systems.” (A Japanese retirement home designed by Reversible Destiny required the occupants to slither across the floor of some areas; some elderly occupants reportedly claimed it improved their health.)
Some walls are made of metal, others of transparent polycarbonate, and the house features over 40 colors. Light switches are oddly angled, and no two windows are the same size or shape. The trademark uneven floor was made using a traditional Japanese method that mixes dirt with a small amount of cement.
The Bioscleave House was originally intended to be a small addition to a cottage, and budgeted at $380K; eventually the project took over the existing house, and ballooned to over $2 million. It was recently listed at $4 million, but was either sold or taken off the market. Considering that the Guggenheim museum did a retrospective on the work of Reversible Destiny’s founders in 1997, getting the house for a few million might be a savvy investment, a piece of art that you can live in now, and retire on later. But regarding the life-extending qualities, the results are less than promising; the founders of Reversible Destiny died in 2010 and 2014, respectively.