Canoa featured in Metropolis Spring Issue: Testing the Limits, New Approaches and Technologies.

Read more of what Federico Negro, Canoa's CEO has to say about Canoa and where AI fits in.

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Metropolis Spring 2024

How AI is Supercharging Design Software Start-ups

Architecture and design’s early forays into artificial intelligence (AI) were mostly confined to image generation and visualization, but in the past couple of years A&D tech insiders have blown the lid off. Below, Andrew Lane, cofounder of consultancy Digby (, Which partners with design and creative industry companies on business innovation, takes us behind the scenes at three revolutionary tech platforms that seek to transform design workflows. But he warns firms to stop “looking at AI only in terms of how it can evolve their design work and creative processes.” Instead, firms should also explore tools that will help them “streamline business processes across areas like marketing, operations, HR and finance. It’s those who are looking at AI holistically as a business co-pilot who will empower their employees to build new skills, automate tedious tasks, liberate their own capacity and, as a result, raise the floor for the entire organization.”

Metropolis Spring 2024

Canoa: Efficiency through Collaboration

Federico Negro has had a better vantage point than most to see the challenges in the world of design. He began his career working in a firm but broke away to cofound a design-innovation and technology consultancy that was later acquired by a (then) small, early-stage start-up called WeWork. After leading that company’s global design team as it expanded to more than 1,000 employees and launched in more than 30 countries, Negro, along with some friends he’d met along the way, struck out on his own to try to solve new design challenges, with a continues focus on technology.

Canoa was born to address the biggest problem of the FF&E industry - inefficiency and waste fueled by data silos and workflow discontinuity. The team got to work answering a fundamental question. What if interior designers, furniture dealers, brands, and clients could collaborate seamlessly in one connected process? The result was their first product, Tether, an online collaborative design tool that eliminated disparate workflows and provided real-time cost analysis along with carbon emission insights.

From there Canoa launched a robust cataloging tool in 2022, establishing a data link to over 200 brands, 25,000 furniture SKUs, and hundreds of millions of product combinations,. In 2023 it introduced Canvas, a 1:1-scaled second-generation design environment that allows designers to create furniture layouts, product schedules, and presentations.

Where AI fits in:

Fundamental to its design, Canoa rejects the notion that AI will eliminate designers, and looks to build intelligence as a tool. With that aim in mind, the team created Canvas AI, a “co-pilot” for interior designers that leverages computer vision and machine learning to aid in the discovery of new and novel products. As more product data is added to the platform in the form of mood boards, layouts, and product schedules, billions of product-to-product connections are generated that help the model learn and provide contextual recommendations, replacing a workflow that is currently manual, error-prone, and time-consuming.

Words By Andrew Lane

Metropolis Spring 2024

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