Drinks x Design networking series returns Thursday

Erica Hobbs
Special to The Detroit News

Drinks x Design, one of Detroit’s most popular and colorful networking events, returns Thursday, following a more than two-year hiatus due to COVID-19. With the theme “Small Scale Manufacturing,” the event will take place at Detroit’s Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center (ISAIC), the first in a monthly rotation of design or design-related venues. 

Design Core Detroit, an economic development nonprofit that supports design-driven industries in Detroit, founded Drinks x Design to link area designers, clients and businesses. 

“Drinks x Design is about keeping creatives connected, collaborating with customers and learning about new resources throughout the city,” said Drinks x Design Director Kiana Wenzell.

Design Core Detroit, an economic development nonprofit that supports design-driven industries in Detroit, founded Drinks x Design to link area designers, clients and businesses.

The free event takes place the second Thursday of every month. Every event features a new theme and partner, and aims to showcase a variety of designers, manufacturers and other resources throughout the city. 

Thursday’s event will also serve as the unofficial public opening of ISAIC, which launched in April 2020. The organization is both a garment manufacturer as well as a training center that offers apprenticeship programs for both industrial sewers and entrepreneurs. Visitors will have the opportunity to tour the factory and learn about its programs and capabilities.

Ann Fitzpatrick, ISAIC’s marketing and communications consultant, said there’s been a lot of talk of Detroit becoming the next fashion hub, but none of that is possible without the necessary skills and talent, which is what they are trying to develop. 

“I hope people can see what we’re doing and get behind it,” she said. “All of this is a really critical piece of developing this industry.” 

In addition to ISAIC, the event will showcase Carhartt’s flagship store, which is located on the first two floors of the building under ISAIC. Visitors can view its Carhartt Workshop and a small exhibit on its history and clothing, as well as receive a discount to shop during the event. Fashion and accessories from local designers India Solomon, Taylor Childs, Donovan Dewberry and Abessa will also be on display. The event will also have a cash bar, light snacks and a DJ.

“Small Scale Manufacturing” is the first of four Drinks x Design events this year, about half the number of previous years. 

“This year is different because, we are more intentional with our time and laser focused on facilitating connections between designers, people and business owners that need design services,” Wenzell said. 

The series will be centered around “United by Design,” its first annual theme.

“The past two years have taught us that our destiny is tied together, braided, threaded,” Wenzell said.” We’re focusing on interdependence and connectedness and how the design of products, services and systems help our communities be more united, equitable and sustainable.”

The rest of the series includes:

•    May 18 (Wednesday): Detroit Opera House: Arts and Culture

•    June 9: The Whiskey Factory: Business

•    Nov. 10: Woodward Throwbacks: Adaptive Rescue

While Drinks x Design is geared toward designers and other creatives, Wenzell said it’s open to everyone and a great opportunity for people to explore interesting spaces in their own city.

She said she hopes the event will help people see design in a new light.

“Design can solve problems in our community in many ways,” she said. “That’s what we want to put at the forefront.”

Drinks x Design: Small Scale Manufacturing will take place from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m., Thursday April 14 at ISAIC, 5800 Cass Ave., Detroit. Tickets are free. For more information, visit www.designcore.org.