Dr Betti Marenko is a transdisciplinary theorist, academic and educator working across process philosophies, planetary technicity and design cultures. She is the founder and director of the Hybrid Futures Lab, a transversal research initiative developing speculative-pragmatic interventions at the intersection of philosophy, design, technology and future-crafting practices.
Betti is best known for her work at the intersection of design theory with Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari thought, investigating the tension between design as a terraforming, world-making (and unmaking) enterprise and speculation as the lure of potential futures. Betti’s approach is to mobilize theory via ‘practical philosophy’ to design new modes of thinking, new modes of sensing, new modes of being and existing.
Betti co-edited the volumes Deleuze and Design, Edinburgh University Press 2015 (with Jamie Brassett), the first book to use Deleuze and Guattari to provide a theoretical framework for the theory and practice of design; and Designing Smart Objects in Everyday Life. Intelligences. Agencies. Ecologies, Bloomsbury 2021, with Marco Rozendaal (TU Delft) and Will Odom (SFU), a transdisciplinary research agenda for the future of smart technology and intelligent machines.
Her new book, The Power of Maybes. Machines, Uncertainty and Design Futures (Bloomsbury, 2024) positions uncertainty as an epistemic resource to address the challenges brought by planetary computation, rethink the encounter of the human with machines and resist algorithmic capture. Contributing to the discourse around the reinvention of critique for the algorithmic age The Power of Maybes argues for the design of modes of living as a micropolitical project through practices of attention and a pan-sensibility attuned not to what is, but to what may be, divesting agency from the trap of the past with its nostalgia of what has been, and the safe replication of the known we call future.
Betti is Reader in Design and Techno-Digital Futures at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London where she is also Contextual Studies Leader for the BA (Hons.) Product and Industrial Design and faculty member of the new MA Design for Industry 5.0, having previously held teaching posts at the University of Essex, and the University of Urbino, Italy.
From 2013-2017 she was Research Leader in the Product, Ceramic and Industrial Design programme at Central Saint Martins working across programmes to foster a research culture, mentor academics and work to develop a strategy for research.
From 2018 she has been Specially Appointed Professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology and a core member of STADHI (Science & Technology + Art & Design Hybrid Innovation) a research collaboration based at Tokyo Institute of Technology in collaboration with Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. Betti’s expertise is on the theory and practice of trans- and post- disciplinarity, and the testing and development of ‘hybrid methodologies’. She is affiliated with the Nohara Lab, Department of Transdisciplinary Science and Engineering, School of Environment and Society where alongside her academic work, she is part of the strategy team delivering Hybrid Innovation, a training programme for industry partners and knowledge exchange initiatives. Relevant research outputs and insights from Betti’s work in Tokyo can be found in Stacking Complexities: Reframing Uncertainty through Hybrid Literacies (2021) and Becoming Hybrid. Transdisciplinarity at the Crossover of Science and Technology and Art and Design (2019).
From 2019-2022 she was Principal Investigator at UAL of FUEL4Design – Future Education and Literacy for Designers – an Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership delivered by a consortium (University of the Arts London, Oslo School of Architecture and Design, Politecnico di Milano and ELISAVA, Barcelona). FUEL4Design is a curriculum innovation project developing toolkits and methods to think about and teach futures to the designers of tomorrow. Betti and her FUEL4Design team produced the Future Philosophical Pills, a deck of cards that interrogate, catalyze and expand design futures through a range of philosophical standpoints. The Future Philosophical Pills were showcased at the Design Transforms ’23 exhibition, Central Saint Martins, in the Autumn 2023.
Betti’s earlier work (1990s-early 2000s) focused on the practices and politics of body modification – specifically tattooing – analysed through Deleuze, Guattari and Spinoza’s thought. In the late 1990s she published two seminal books on this subject: Ibridazioni. Corpi in Transito e Alchimie della Nuova Carne (Castelvecchi 1997) and Segni Indelebili. Materia e Desiderio del Corpo Tatuato (Feltrinelli 2002). Both are works of ‘practical philosophy’ based on Betti’s own extensive experience of, experimentation with, and reflection on permanent body marking. You can read here the abstract of her PhD thesis Body marking/body mapping. Technologies of shifting subjectivity through skin shedding machines (2004).
For a full CV see here.
To contact Betti: email@example.com