Peer designers as strong influencers on the design process of food startups

Summer D. Jung*, Erika Perttunen, Senni Kirjavainen, Tua Björklund, Sohyeong Kim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articleScientificpeer-review

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As design research expands its horizon, there has been a recent rise in studies on nontraditional designers. Previous studies have noted the positive effect of diversity in generating ideas. Among different sources of influence, peers outside the design team have been noted for their positive impact on the design process, yet the research on this topic is still in its early stages. Using qualitative data from 40 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the American and Finnish food and beverage industries, the current study examines their interactions with other SMEs, shedding light on the influence of peers on creating new design solutions. The findings suggest that peer companies can act as a frequent and impactful source of inspiration for product design ideas. The most prevalent forms of interaction were co-creating products, sharing information, and sharing ingredients. Furthermore, the interactions were voluntary, organic, and improvisational in nature, and physical proximity or previous connections often initiated the interactions. Taken together, a great number of peer influences contributed towards creative new solutions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2409-2418
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the Design Society
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021
MoE publication typeA4 Conference publication
EventInternational Conference on Engineering Design - Gothenburg, Sweden
Duration: 16 Aug 202120 Aug 2021


  • new product development
  • design practice
  • design process
  • collaborative design


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