Interview with Mari Ishikawa – German Based Artist and Artisan

Please introduce yourself and your background. Why did you move to Germany?

I am a Jewellery and photograph artist in Munich, Germany.

I was born in Kyoto. I studied art education in Japan. I worked at first as an interior architect and designer. In 1994 I came to Munich and enrolled in Professor Otto Künzli’s jeweler class at the art academy “Academy Of Fine Arts” in Munich.

Mari Ishikawa

I worked as an interior designer in Japan. It was quite interesting, but the boundaries I could act between were too narrow. Jewellery gives me more artistic freedom. Therefore l was fascinated with the jewellery world from the beginning.


Please tell us about your work.

I make unique jewelleries and show my pieces in Museums or galleries around the world. There are about ten galleries in the world, showing my work right now.

My jewellery often makes reference to nature.I started being attracted by flowers and weeds. Their various shapes and perfection were surprising for me. They are just there. I felt that their existence tells more than a thousand words sometimes. I try to freeze the plants beauty and stop the process of fading by keeping their essence and their memories.


In my work “Moonlight Shadow” I’m trying to view existing colors and shapes, which cannot be seen in the dark, by photographing with long exposure times under the moonlight. Also time and movement like floating water is becoming real in a picture.

The natural colour of plants cannot be seen under the moonlight. It appears in tones of grey. In my jewelry, I’m abstracting real colors by casting plants in silver – in silver and grey tones like color under the moonlight. It is impossible to keep nature real. If I try to keep a plant it will fade away soon. I’m trying to create a still moment of the natural life circuit by casting a plant’s moment in silver. The result is an object of illusion which shows a short moment of life.

Parallel World Parallel World

How did the Mari Ishikawa brand start?

I consider myself to be primarily an artist. I don’t see it as being a brand.

As such I’m creating about 1-3 new collections every year, as well as 3-5 solo exhibitions and I participate in some group exhibitions.

For someone who wishes to take up this kind of career, what kind of advice would you give them?

Please keep your dream and try to open the door.

Where do your ideas for jewellery come from? Where do you find the inspiration for your designs?

For me the relationship with the nature was always considerable. I found the contact to nature much easier in Germany. Only since living in Munich have I integrated nature as a component in my work.



How long does it take to design and make a particular work? Can you give a short summary of the processes that go into each one?

I make a concept at first. The most gratifying thing during the process is seeing how my thoughts assume shape during crafting objects by my own hands. Even more gratifying is to see my work worn by others after this process.

However I find it difficult to try to explain my work and answer questions about it after the process.

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To what extent do you draw upon your Japanese heritage for your work?

As a culture Japan seems inspired by nature. So as I have said before the relationship with nature is quites considerable for me, however I find it easier to be closer to nature in Munich.

I love the classic essay “ In Praise of Shadow”By Junichiro Tanizaki. I’m fascinated by Tanizaki’s descriptions of the play of shadows and hues, of how colours change in the fabric of a kimono, in the twilight of a Japanese home and depending on to the angles and the qualities of the lighting. The illusion in the darkness and the fineness of the shadows have long been elements in my artworks.

Recently I discovered the work of the Japanese architect Junya Ishigami. He is trying to find the limits of architecture.

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What do traditional Japanese crafts mean to you?

It is great industry in Japan. Unfortunately,  I did not study any traditional Japanese craft techniques.

Do you have any exhibitions or events coming up?

Exhibition: “Memory” 26.Feb-4.Apr. ATTA Gallery, Bangkok

Workshop: “Border” 25-27.Feb. Le Arti Orafe, Florence

“Double Negatives” 29.May-1.Jun. WALKA Studio, Santiago

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Finally, any last words for anyone interested in Japanese crafts?

I would like to talk about my work philosophy.

Jewellery gives me more artistic freedom. At the same time, the relationships between me, the object and the person who wears it, are more personal and more intensive in jewellery.

The most interesting thing for me is, that jewelry writes it’s own story. During the time I make jewelry the piece is still my own work with my story. But once someone wears the piece, a new story and relationship starts between the new owner and the jewelry.

I hope that many people enjoy it.

MI-The Tag