LA Home Spotlight: The Mosaic Tile House

Featured image credit: mosaictilehouse_venice

Everyone has been transfixed at some point or another by the cascading colors and shapes of a kaleidoscope. But living in one? That takes a special kind of person. Or, in the case of the Mosaic Tile House in Venice, a special couple of people. Not content to just create art, Cheri Pann and Gonzalo Duran reside in what is arguably their masterpiece; a beachside bungalow encrusted with countless colored tiles of sea greens and awe-inspiring azures. Not a single inch of the 6,000-foot lot has escaped the mosaic treatment. Well, maybe a few inches. We’ll get to that in a bit. So what compels an artist (or, in this case, artists) to go full mosaic on their own home? 

The Solid Foundation of the Mosaic Tile House

The story starts in 1992 when the Mosaic Tile House was just another beige bungalow blending into its Venice surroundings. It was in this year that Pann and Duran met, connecting over a love of one another’s unique artistic visions. Their relationship had become romantic by 1994 when Pann purchased the unassuming Venice bungalow and hired Duran to build an art studio at the rear of the home. 

At some point, Duran moved in and completed work on the onsite art studio. And, as is the case with artists, blank canvases began to populate with ideas. Among those blank canvases: the bungalow itself.

The mosaic tsunami started simply enough. To add some character to a basic bathroom, Pann and Duran began to apply homemade decorative tiles in mesmerizing patterns. But the process was as addictive as it was therapeutic. Soon, the bathroom was so saturated with vibrant tiles that they began to spill out into the next room. Then the next. 

A Work in Progress

Over two decades later, work on the Mosaic Tile House hasn’t stopped. Nor does it show any signs of stopping. Pann and Duran, now married, are never short of inspiration, and the home, still their only artistic collaboration, emphasizes this bottomless creativity. 

While the growing army of tiles still makes up the brunt of the home’s decorative elements, other odds and ends have made their way into the ever-evolving work of art. Silverware, shattered saucers, dainty teacups, pots and pans… all of it is fair game for Pann’s and Duran’s shared artistic vision. While the occasional flowering tree punctuates their yard, the grass has been replaced by glistening tiles in swirling patterns. It brings a whole new dimension to xeriscaping. 

Nuances of the Collaboration

To create the DIY mosaic tiles, Pann and Duran use a combination of blank tiles purchased from vendors and tiles they create from clay. Pann prefers to create the batches of hand-crafted tiles and stained glass while Duran shapes and sets them. This means Duran is also largely responsible for breaking the tiles into whatever the vision demands, a destructive path to creation in which Pann admits she doesn’t have much interest. 

And while you could be forgiven for believing every inch of the Mosaic Tile House is saturated with kaleidoscopic tiles, there is one sanctuary from the tile takeover. Interestingly enough, it is the studio that Pann commissioned from Duran. 

And when crossing into that studio, the couple’s collaboration ends. It’s a sacred space where Pann does her thing and Duran does his. But muses recognize no boundaries, evidenced by a series of portraits of Duran that Pann painted, now decorating the studio walls. 

The Future of the Mosaic Tile House

Duran and Pann view the Mosaic Tile House as a lifelong project with an entire upper floor pregnant with possibilities. Meanwhile, Pann is hoping to secure a historic designation to protect the couple’s habitable collaboration long after both of them are gone. 

Since 1996, the couple has welcomed visitors to the Mosaic Tile House. In more recent years, visiting hours have been limited to noon until 3 pm on select Saturdays. After all, this is a private residence. But if you want to see the Mosaic Tile House for yourself, you can start to plan your trip by visiting Pann’s website

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