Enzo Mari was born in Novara, Italy where he studied classics and literature at the Academia di Brera in Milan from 1952 to 1956. As a student, Mari supported himself by working as a visual artist and freelance researcher. In a period when Italian design was flourishing as enlightened industrialists collaborated closely with designers to rebuild their businesses, he also became interested in design and painstakingly taught himself about it. His first project for Danese was 16 Animali, or 16 Animals, launched in 1957.