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Central Saint Martins
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Researcher Research
Elisabetta  MARENKO


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

Marenko’s background is in sociology, philosophy and cultural studies, and she has over 10 years of experience in design education and research. Her interdisciplinary approach brings together design studies, continental philosophy and the analysis of digital cultures to investigate the relationships between design, society and technologies, and their role in shaping possible futures. Her work has featured frequently in international conferences, collections and peer-reviewed journals, including Design and Culture, Design Studies and Digital Creativity. She is a co-editor of the volume Deleuze and Design (Edinburgh University Press 2015), the first book to use Deleuze and Guattari to provide an entirely new theoretical framework to address the theory and practice of design.

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

Marenko is currently writing a book 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 looks at the production of algorithm-driven knowledge and suggests ways of re-imagining human-machine interaction through unpredictability, intuition, and minor practices. It asks what it means to be human in a world populated by objects designed to be smart. It 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.

Marenko is Reader in Design and Techno-Digital Futures, Contextual Studies Programme for Product Design at CSM. She is Visiting Professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology.

Prior to this was Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Essex, and Visiting Lecturer at the University of Urbino. Her earlier work focused on the practices and politics of body modification - specifically tattooing - analysed through the thought of Deleuze, Guattari and Spinoza, and she is the author of two seminal books in Italian 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 her extensive experience of, experimentation with, and reflection on permanent body marking.

Grants and awards

(Figures indicate amount awarded to UAL)

Research Outputs

Book Section

Conference, Symposium or Workshop item


Current research students

  • Rebecca Breuer, Fashion beyond identity. The three ecologies of dress. (Lead supervisor)
  • Guy Keulemans, Affect and the experimental design of domestic products. (Lead supervisor)
  • Megan Rowden, The bond between maker, material and the audience; and the honour and conflicts of being a material led artist. (Lead supervisor)
  • Neslihan Tepehan, Asignifying traits in design. (Lead supervisor)