8 min read

Kicking off our 2024 Product Roadshow!

January kicked off our in-person product roadshow. A week long experience to meet with our early adopters IRL and connect with more designers who are actively rejecting status quo processes and practices and are embracing new ways to master their craft.
Written by
Chelsea Flintoft
Published on
May 30, 2024

Canoa Circle x SF Edition

The last week of January kicked off our inaugural Canoa Circle Roadshow. Canoa Circle is a community made up of interior designers, furniture dealerships and furniture brands, created to discuss and build the future of design tools. 

Since 2019 Canoa has been on a mission to answer a simple question: What if interior designers, furniture dealers, furniture brands, and clients could create and deliver better, more sustainable spaces as a team, from start to finish … all in one connected workflow? 

Seems simple, but in an industry that has accepted disparate workflows and has done little to take ownership of their own tools, has instead depended on adapting those often made for other industries. We know that the average designer may use as many as 6-8 separate technologies to do every day tasks in their job and that access to the right data at the right time is a completely human process today that takes weeks and is fraught with errors and omissions. Building an online collaborative design tool that connects data to humans is what we have been obsessed with. 

So, we set out to find and talk to designers who are actively rejecting status quo processes and practices and, rather, are embracing new ways to master their craft.

Building tools designers actually want

Federico Negro (CEO) and Josh Emig (Head of Product) showing our product roadmap to Rapt SF and Gensler SF

Over the past 6 months we interviewed a lot of designers, dealers and furniture brands (many of whom we met in person during our SF Roadshow). We researched the way that designers find inspiration, source products and work with their teams. We heard that designers wanted better ways to search, discover, design and specify the products in a sea of options. We also heard they needed a better collaborative tool that enhanced their teams ability to work together. 

From these insights we knew we needed to build a tool that:

  • Gives designers a space to play from inspiration to final layouts and specifications.
  • Give designers a place to bring the rest of their design team and project partners to co-create and collaborate as they develop their designs.

As a bi-product of our research, we launched our newest tool Canoa 2.0 and Canoa AI, in October of 2023. This was our answer to go more upstream in the designer’s experience to provide a tool that allows playful exploration and team collaboration. 

This became our second generation design environment that expanded  Canoa’s design capabilities in two critical ways. First, the ‘design space’ evolves from generating furniture layouts in the form of vector drawings to an infinite ‘'Canvas'’ where designers can now also play with images and furniture ‘cards’ or specifications. ‘'Canvas'’ also allows designers to bring the rest of their design team, project partners, and clients directly  into their ‘design space’ to co-create and collaborate as they develop their designs. To top it off, we also turned on ‘'Canoa AI’ - an automation layer that leverages computer vision to augment the designer’s workflow as they search and discover new and surprising products based on image-based inputs.

With this launch, we knew we wanted to get back in front of our users, but this time IRL.

Canoa showing our product roadmap to Studio O+A

Canoa Circle- SF Edition 

Josh Emig with the group of 14 designers that were part of our Canvas Research.

Our first roadshow stop was San Francisco, where we met with our Canoa Circle early adopters and a diverse group of designers working at design companies like Gensler, Rapt, O+A, SOM, MGWest, CRI, Corral, Normann Copenhagen and Denvir Enterprises.  

We talked about our recent product launches, shared exclusive looks at our product roadmap and gained valuable feedback on feature priorities. After addressing the two new features we built (Canvas and Canoa AI) we dug into the design process of how our platform could empower designers to go from inspirational mood boards and product discovery directly into technical product specification and final layouts– all in the same design tool. 

Other technical topics included the importance of integrating third party tools like CAD, REVIT, Pinterest and CET, and how to leverage machine learning and AI as a way to create and set design standards firm wide.

One insight from our conversations (while not surprising) is that the collaboration between furniture reps, dealers and designers has primarily been offline and these relationships historically siloed. At Canoa, we believe everyone is a designer. What  we have seen within Canvas is that it’s not just interior designers building mood boards and layouts or dealers working in technical FF&E layouts, we also see furniture rep’s creating and sharing product presentations.

An example of this is Denvir Enterprises- a creative rep group based out of Los Angeles and SF-  has started to use canvas as their new presentation format. They create mood boards with their products and then share them with designers, which inturn allows those designers to just copy and paste favorite products directly into their own mood boards and floor plans. Holland (Denvir Enterprises founder) has been an early adopter of Canoa and figured out how to leverage Canoa to ‘hack’ the process of passing off product data to designers. 

Check out the full Denvir Enterprise Canvas!

Some of our other early adopters praised this as a game changer saying this process normally takes weeks if not months for a rep to book a presentation and share new product updates and then wait for follow-ups on availability, pricing and esg data. Now it takes minutes to learn about new product launches (or even minor updates) and immediately start designing with it. 

‘Canvas’ has already started to empower our industry to work together, online and more efficiently. Since October we have seen over 1000 canvases made and shared.

Our Product Roadmap

In Q1, we are prioritizing features that give designers the ability to turn concepts into refined projects and develop technical specifications, budgets and presentations more easily. 

January ushered in some major feature updates such as: text, commenting, scaling floor plans, alignment and frames. Other highly anticipated features coming soon include importing and exporting files, custom presentation capabilities and bringing in technical project needs like milestones, furniture schedules, budgets and even inventory management tracking. 

Canoa is more than just a product– it’s a community. A community that cultivates a safe space for designers, dealers and brands to come together to dig into their craft and not accept status quo processes or practices. We like to say that design is never done alone, and that’s exactly how we build our product. 

Join our growing community today to stay up to date on our research, feature launches and more Canoa Roadshows coming to a city near you!

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