“Young Michael was an even more ‘amplified’ version of himself back then,” he says. “The drawings he produced were gorgeous and I learned how to draft modeling his work. I didn’t know anyone like him. The house expresses an authenticity as well, one that celebrates how it’s put together. Nothing is hidden, and Michael loves to include surprise and delight in his work; throw in a 45-degree angle when he can. So, it creates a lot of wonderful moments.”
Also influential: The fact that the home was constantly on display. “Living in the house was like living inside an experiment,” notes Jackson. Tours came through regularly, sometimes led by the teen himself, giving Jackson the unique ability to see his home through the eyes of others. “I really got an understanding of how people experience physical spaces. It was formative listening to those reactions and seeing what people do when challenged by a space. Their sheer excitement or dislike,” he adds. “Contrast that with my mom’s frustrations of there not being anywhere to put up drapes or store her stuff…”
Today, the teen has indeed grown into an architect. After spending a number of years at the helm of his own hospitality-focused firm, then as Senior Design Director at the Getty Group, Thilenius now serves as Senior Vice President of Hospitality and Design Americas for RDC.