About

Betti Marenko is a design theorist, academic, educator, public speaker and consultant.

 

Her work is located at the intersection of philosophy and design. Influenced by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, her research examines the tension between design taken as way of speculating on, and instigating, the future, and thought that addresses materiality, affect, the virtual and the nonhuman.

Betti’s interest is in fostering lines of minor design: multiple ways of repositioning design in the 21st century as a problematising tool for thinking, making and creating change. With an interdisciplinary approach that brings together design studies, philosophy and the analysis of digital cultures, her work features frequently in conferences, collections and journals, for instance Design and Culture, Design Studies, and Digital Creativity. She is currently involved in a range of research projects:

Together with Marco Rozendaal (TU Delft) and Will Odom (SFU) she is co-editing the volume, forthcoming for Bloomsbury, Designing Smart Objects in Everyday Life. Intelligences. Agencies. Ecologies, a collection of essays developing a new research framework for interaction design. The volume examines the emerging  nonhuman intelligence of smart objects, informed matter and sentient environments by focusing on the animation and contested materiality of the digital. Animism and digital enchantment are proposed as post-human, post-cognitive, post-user theoretical frameworks to speculate on alternative models of interaction between humans and digital objects and, broadly, between the human and the nonhuman.

She is Principal Investigator at UAL of FUEL4Design  – Future Education and Literacy for Designers – a 3-year Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership jointly delivered by a consortium of leading design-educator-researchers: University of the Arts London, Oslo School of Architecture and Design, Politecnico di Milano and ELISAVA. FUEL4Design is a curriculum innovation project whose objective is the development of toolkits to think about futures and teach futures to the designers of tomorrow. Betti and her team @UAL are developing Futures Philosophical Pills: critical lenses that interrogate, catalyze and expand design practices through a range of philosophical standpoints.

As Specially Appointed Professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology  she conducts research on transdisciplinarity and the articulation of hybrid methodologies that can furnish educators, learners, and practitioners with agile tools of exchange, discussion and debate across arts, design, science, technologies and the humanities. See the report Becoming Hybrid. Transdisciplinarity at the Crossover of Science and Technology and Art and Design (2019) jointly produced by Central Saint Martins and TokyoTech with Betti as the academic lead.

She is currently writing a monograph titled The Power of Maybes. Between Prediction and Potential in Algorithmic Culture, which investigates the new contingent logic of planetary computation and its impact on society, publics and subjectivities. It examines how algorithmic governmentality shapes modes of knowledge-production and modes of existence, and suggests ways of reclaiming, re-imagining and re-crafting human-machine ecologies through unpredictability, intuition, and minor practices.

She is the co-editor of the volume Deleuze and Design (Deleuze Connections Series, Edinburgh University Press 2015, with Jamie Brassett), the first book to use Deleuze and Guattari to provide a new theoretical framework to address the theory and practice of design. She is Associate Editor of the journal Design and Culture.

Betti’s previous work focused on the practices and politics of body modification – specifically tattooing –  analysed  through Deleuze, Guattari and Spinoza’s thought. You can read here the abstract of her PhD thesis Body marking/body mapping. Technologies of shifting subjectivity through skin shedding machines. In the late 1990s she wrote two seminal Italian books on this subject: Ibridazioni. Corpi in Transito e Alchimie della Nuova Carne. Roma, Castelvecchi. 1997, and Segni Indelebili. Materia e Desiderio del Corpo Tatuato. Milano, Feltrinelli. 2002. Both are works of ‘practical philosophy’ based on Betti’s own extensive experience of, experimentation with, and reflection on permanent body marking.

She is currently Reader in Design and Techno-Digital Futures at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London where she is also the Contextual Studies Leader for the BA (Hons.) Product Design since 2007, having previously held teaching posts at the University of Essex, and the University of Urbino, Italy. She was Research Leader in Product, Ceramic and Industrial Design at Central Saint Martins from 2013 until the Summer of 2017.

For a full CV see here.

To contact Betti: hello@bettimarenko.org

photo by James Bryant 2020