2006 Jury Member

The Rolex Awards for Enterprise

Location: Japan

Motoko Ishii
Japan, Born 1938

For Motoko Ishii, “light is life” and the internationally acclaimed lighting designer has spent her life fulfilling a wish “to show the beauty of light to as many people as possible”. A pioneer in her field, she has extended the boundaries of lighting design in urban, architectural, landmark and environmental illumination.


A childhood interest in things mechanical and a desire to become an industrial designer led Ishii to study product design at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music and to subsequent work in Finland and Germany. In 1968, she established Motoko Ishii Lighting Design, which, along with sister company Light Creation, has implemented hundreds of innovative projects worldwide. Among her many outstanding and varied commissions have been EXPO ’70 in Osaka; the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, the world’s longest suspension bridge; the Shirakawago historic village, a World Heritage Site; Tokyo Station; Tokyo Tower; laser art performances in Vienna and Brussels; and a production of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.

Harmony with nature is fundamental to Ishii’s environmentally friendly lighting systems, often designed to revitalize structures and enhance heritage sites. Lighting should be considered from the standpoint of culture, not technology, says Ishii, who has received dozens of prestigious awards in Japan and abroad, such as the Shiju-hosho (Medal of honour with Purple Ribbon) from the Japanese government. Her work, including lighting fixtures she personally designed, is presented in numerous publications, the latest, Lighting Horizons, in 2001.

Of her future, Ishii says: “I want to explore some of the possibilities that new technologies create.”

Other 2006 Jury Members