Courtesy CANOA

How AI Is Supercharging Design Software Start-ups

Andrew Lane, cofounder of consultancy Digby, takes us behind the scenes at three revolutionary tech platforms that seek to transform design workflows.

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.” 

Baya: Data Sharing, from Design to Build 

John Derkach turned a walk with a friend into a mission to change the game for the architecture, engineering, and construction industries. 

A career architect with a penchant for all things tech, Derkach was frustrated with the challenges his colleagues faced in implementing simple 3D designs. After an inspiring conversation with a friend, that frustration became the catalyst for Baya, an effort to establish a seamless connection between designing and building. Not a small challenge. 

Derkach and his team put their early focus on innovating on top of existing tools (Revit and Rhino) and gaining direct access to manufacturers. This connection allowed the product to ensure that users had the most accurate sustainability data, shared in real time across various design applications. As Baya evolved, it strategically expanded the product’s reach to include general contractors and subcontractors, aiming to bridge gaps in data sharing among stakeholders to continue to evolve workflows, fostering the development of more sustainable and creative buildings. 

What sets Baya apart is its commitment to reimagining existing processes, not just digitizing bad habits. Currently in its final weeks in beta, Baya is set to formally launch this spring with a mission to continue driving the future of architectural technology practices in the virtual space. 

John Derkach, founder of Baya3D
Courtesy Baya3D


AI sits within the fabric of the product as Baya leverages intelligence and machine learning to deliver instantaneous, enhanced 3D renderings, advanced search for construction products, and optimization of other labor-intensive processes. This innovative approach and implementation have garnered attention, with Baya becoming an early member of tech giant Nvidia’s Omniverse 3D experiential program. 

Federico Negro, founder of Canoa

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 continued 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.


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.

Ian Keough, founder of Hypar
Anthony Hauck, founder of Hypar

Hypar: Automation with Intelligence

Ian Keough and Anthony Hauck have been rewriting the rules of design technology since long before the AI revolution.

Keough was the mind behind Dynamo, a well-known BIM plug-in for Revit, while Hauck held numerous senior product roles, including at Autodesk, where he led the product team for Revit itself. After meeting at Autodesk in 2018, they joined forces to create Hypar, a design automation platform that seeks to transform the way designers and architects approach their work. 

Their goal? To liberate designers from the tyranny of the dreaded blank page that’s an all-too-common struggle in existing CAD and BIM software.

Hypar started as a platform that allows for the reuse of design logic across multiple projects, saving time and fostering creativity. Over time, that vision shifted toward creating sector-specific applications for workplace and health-care space planning. By aligning with the natural workflow of design firms, Hypar aims to enhance utility and cater to specific industry needs. 

Today the product makes complex, coordinated designs accessible to anyone, while still allowing designers the freedom to explore unique solutions and make efficient decisions throughout the design and construction process.

Courtesy Hypar


Hypar leverages AI across multiple facets of its product. At its core, Hypar’s AI generates quantifiable 3D models that represent building components and systems that can be successfully repeated across multiple projects while still allowing designers the freedom to tailor them to unique solutions. The “text-to-BIM” workflow operates just as it sounds, allowing the creation of fully quantifiable designs in only a few keystrokes. Another tool, the Facade Creator, allows reference photographs to be quickly transformed into fully quantifiable 3D facade models, a time-saving feat currently unmatched in the industry.

Would you like to comment on this article? Send your thoughts to: [email protected]

  • No tags selected