Alex Salas

Woodbury University - Interior Design

Instructor / Advisor: Lara Hoad, Todd Erlandson

The Inside Out project looks at the ways in which small businesses have been affected by Covid-19 and how we as designers can look at this new challenge and how its impacts our new designs. Dulans is a family and community driven business with history that has shaped and made it what it is today. While looking at the ways in which I could bring this business from the inside out I looked at architectural elements of the space such as form, materials, furniture, and finishes. With that in mind the creation of the outside space took form, from its checkered lattice, to its interactive community boards, test kitchen and gardens, to its stage for live music. Also keying in on elements such as the buffet style serving and transparency with Dulans, this extension is seamless and acts as if it was part of its original interior design. 

Inside Out: Dulans Soul Food Restaurant

Dulans Soul Food restaurant is located in the neighboring city of Inglewood, California. When choosing this location for my Studio 6 project we were challenged with looking at the ways in which Covid-19 has affected small businesses and how we as designers are able to help this impact. The Inside Out project was created to showcase the effect of the pandemic and how small businesses were moving their establishments outside to stay open and still follow community guidelines. Within this project you can learn and understand why Dulans is a key and critical spot in the city of Inglewood. This family owned business brings a sense of community along with their tasty food that keeps customers engaged and wanting more. Adolf Dulan started with a dream and created a hub for all to come and enjoy within the Inglewood Community. Keeping with that same idea it was easy to start thinking about how I could keep with the history and open door environment, to create a space outside that would be a reflection of its inside.

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The “Inside Out” project was created with the business in mind and allowed outside spaces to be functional while still being representative of its original ethos. With tackling this idea I was able to look at architectural elements of the space such as form, materials, furniture, and finishes. With creating a mood board and touchpoint diagram, making connections to the outside space became more clear. Showcasing the history of Dulans and elements of soul food is apparent in my outside design. The checkered tablecloth is apparent as you turn the corner and see the red perforated lattice wrapping around into the parking lot. Opening within the lattice helps keep the conversation going between people standing in line and those eating within the space.

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Community engagement is key and a part of Dulans, so having community recipe boards hung up while people are waiting in line and sitting enjoying food help keep that engagement alive. A test kitchen is right off the main kitchen that holds cooking lessons and is around the corner from the open patio where the band plays. Upon waking in you are greeted by a community garden where the vegetables are grown, picked and served.

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Again the checkered pattern tablecloth is also represented by the square colored tables that are arranged in a grid within the space. With unfixed tables to allow for adaptability within the outside space. Elements from the Inside are showcased Outside as if the extension of Dulans was thought of in the process of creation when they first opened. This branded experience allows the customer to feel that this extension has always been there and showcases Dulans in a new and updated way. Keeping with its history and brand, this small business is here to withstand and evolve with the impact of Covid-19. Once entering Dulans you feel a sense of community and history that impacts the ways in which it is heavily introduced throughout its design and transparency. Something that through Covid-19 has not been lost and still resonated with its customers. 

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