Marije Kanis was born in The Netherlands. She earned an Interaction Design degree (Cum Laude) at the Utrecht School of the Arts (HKU), Faculty of Art, Media & Technology in Hilversum, The Netherlands. She received the Faculty award for one of her graduation projects, which she did for the Efteling (Dutch Fairytale Park).
After earning her degree, Marije worked as a new media artist focusing on interactive experiences in installations, paintings, theatre (Made in da Shade) and animations. She started a Master of Science course in Mediatechnology at Leiden University, and joined the Human Connectedness group at Media Lab Europe in September 2002.
Outside of work, she has also dedicated herself to more socially oriented activities such as working as a volunteer in Italy for people with social and mental health problems, designing and working on building a playground for children in Germany, and also joining an action group working towards involving more women in art and technical education.