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Central Saint Martins


Dr. Betti Marenko

Contextual Studies Leader, BA Product Design
Central Saint Martins
Betti  Marenko


I lead the Contextual Studies element of the course. I hold a PhD and a MA from the University of East London. My thesis investigated the practices and politics of bodily modification through the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari. Earlier I gained a First Class degree in Sociology of Culture and Semiotics from the University of Urbino. I have been Contextual Studies Leader for the BA (Hons.) Product Design since 2007, having previously held teaching posts at the University of Essex, and University of Urbino. I am also Research Leader for the Ceramic, Industrial and Product Design Programme.

My commitment to education has been recognized by the UAL Teaching Award, which I won in 2014.

My background in philosophy, sociology and critical theory, and my research interests at the intersection of design, philosophy, human-machine interaction and digital materiality inform a context-driven approach to design, always investigated as part of wider ecologies of practices, processes and behaviours. I am interested in how a philosophical investigation of the ontological status of material objects affects the theory and practice of design, and how designed objects hold power over us. One of my research project focuses on animism as the key post-human, post-user, post-cognitive response to our interaction with objects, digital and nondigital.

I am the co-editor (with J. Brassett) of the volume Deleuze and Design, Edinburgh University Press (2015) and the author of essays on design theory, digital materiality, affect and animism. My work has been published in Design and Culture, MEI Médiation et Information, Negotiating Futures-Design Fiction, Networks of Design, Mute.

I have lectured at MIT, MFA CCA San Francisco, Institute for Design Research (IDE) Zurich, University of Belgrade. I am regularly invited to speak at national and international conferences. Most recently:


  • What’s the Matter, Materiality and Materialism at the Age of Computation, Chamber of Architects Barcelona
  • MIT Computational Making. Workshop. 6th International Conference on Design Computing and Cognition (DCC 14), UCL
  • Political aesthetics - political design. Workshop. Institute for Design Research (IDE), Zurich University of the Arts


  • Good Things and Bad Things Symposium. Nottingham Contemporary. Nottingham Trent University and the Design Research Society
  • First Deleuze Studies in Asia Conference Creative Assemblages. Tamkang University, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Design Studies Forum panel Deterritorializing Design. Rethinking the relationship between theory and practice. CAA - College Art Association Conference, New York


  • Futureprimitives. Interieur Design Biennale, Kortrijk, Belgium
  • 5th International Deleuze Studies Conference Deterritorializing Deleuze. New Orleans
  • Design Studies Forum panel Design, thing theory, and the lives of objects. CAA - College Art Association Conference, Los Angeles

Key publications:

(Forthcoming 2015) ‘Filled with wonder. The enchanting android from cams to algorithms’ in Encountering Things. Leslie Atzmon and Prasad Boradkar eds. Bloomsbury

(Forthcoming 2015) ‘The un-designability of the virtual. Design from problem-solving to problem-finding’ inUnDesign. Gavin Sade, Gretchen Coombs, Andrew McNamara eds. Urban Modernities Research group, Brisbane. Continuum Bloomsbury

2014 ‘Neo-Animism and design. A new paradigm in object theory’. Special issue of Design and Culture, the Journal of the Design Studies Forum. Theme: Design, thing theory and the lives of objects. Leslie Atzmon (ed.). London, Berg. Issue 6.2. pp. 219-242

2010 'Contagious Affectivity. The management of emotions in late capitalist design' in Negotiating Futures – Design Fiction. 6th Swiss Design Network Conference proceedings,Basel.

2009 ‘Now I can feel myself! The production of affects in the visual discourse of psychopharmaceuticals’, in F.Hackney, J. Glynne and V.Minton eds, Networks of Design. Proceedings of the 2008 Annual International Conference of the Design History Society, University College Falmouth.

2009 ‘Object-relics and their effects: for a neo-animist paradigm’ in Objets & Communication. B.Darras and S. Belkhamsa eds. MEI ‘Mediation and Information’review n. 30-31, Centre of Image, Research, Culture and Cognition, University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Paris, Editions de l’Harmattan.


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