Mario Villa grew up in Managua, Nicaragua surrounded by the art collection of his parents. Some of his earliest artistic endeavors included painting and welding scraps of metal into sculptural forms. Villa was educated in Europe and in the United States, earning degrees in anthropology at the University of New Orleans (1976) and in architecture from Tulane University (1981). His family was exiled from their native Nicaragua amidst the Sandinista Revolution. This event prompted Villa to make New Orleans his permanent home. Being a sensualist and an iconoclast, he implanted himself in this culturally rich city. Villa found himself well educated, but unequipped to earn a living. Knowing that he wouldn't fare well in a traditional corporate environment, he turned to what he loved and knew so well - art. He opened his first gallery in a small converted garage space in the French Quarter where he first showed his water colors and oil paintings. He opened a larger gallery after only two years and, drawing on his love of antiquity and archeology, he began designing furniture. Villa's home is in New Orleans, a city that suits his romantic and sensual personality. It serves as a respite from the notoriety that has come with the receipt of several international design awards.