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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Mosaic tile house

A couple from Venice turns their home into one continuous mosaic


Artists Cheri Pann and Gonzalo Duran have taken the art of mosaic to new depths. The couple has spent more than 16 years tiling every inch of their Venice home, creating a wall-to-wall mosaic.

Pann and Duran left no nook or cranny untouched. They’ve used both traditional tiles and non-traditional materials including coffee mugs, food utensils, and stuffed animals to complete their masterpiece.

While so much color can be visually exciting, Pann admits it can also be visually exhausting at times.

“When I’m working in the kitchen, I lose my utensils and sometimes the food amongst all the colors, and I have to go feeling for them,” Pann said.

Colleen Malone-Engel has known the couple for almost 20 years. Engel says the house reveals their “playful and celebratory” nature.

“They both work really hard and enjoy it, and the house really looks like it,” Engel said.

Duran and Pann’s lives intersected 18 years ago when Pann came to buy paint at the paint store where Duran works.

“And then we kissed,” Pann said. Duran replied with a chuckle, “No, you don’t have to tell her.”

From that moment on, these two seemingly opposite characters began their journey together. Duran and Pann’s contrasting personalities became evident in their individual works of art.

“I look more happy, but I paint somber paintings and he looks more somber, but he paints happy paintings,” Pann said.

Duran uses bright colors and comic appeal in his paintings, while Pann concentrates on deep colors and dark themes. Pann’s newest fascination is crimson, the color of blood.

“I just can’t stop using that color,” Pann said. “It’s so provocative.”

Duran said he is influenced by artist Antonio Gaudi of the Spanish Art Nouveau movement. Parts of the couple’s mosaic house seem to be a direct offshoot of Gaudi’s Park Guell.

“He was my hero,” Duran said.

In tackling the mosaic project, Pann and Duran have worked alongside one another as a team. Pann makes most of the tiles herself. Then, Duran breaks them before placing them as part of the mosaic.

Duran’s mother, Isabel Duran, said he has been preparing for mosaic-crafting since his childhood, when he used to paint on paper-covered walls.

“I never imagined that he could do what he is doing now,” Ms. Duran said in Spanish.

Pann and Duran said they still have much work to do on their home before it is finished. But even if they do technically “finish” tiling, they will never truly be done.

“After we finish, we move and start over,” Duran said.

Duran said making a mosaic of this scope is a challenge that you’d have to “be crazy” to do. But Duran wouldn’t have it any other way.

“This makes us happy and that’s all that matters,” Duran said.

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