Derby Market Place

Outdoor Experiences

Katapult were approached by the Derby Recovery Task Force – a public/private partnership group who were leading the city’s economic response to the Coronavirus pandemic. The brief was to create an outdoor seating area to support the city centre’s hospitality industry and also instill consumer confidence in returning to the city. The experience would be situated in the city centre’s largest public realm area, called the Market Place, and need to be activated within four weeks.

The imagination, creativity and speed in which this has been achieved is breathtaking. So proud of all those that have made this happen in our city.

Paul Simpson

CEO at Derby City Council


We started by undertaking a Benchmark and Consumer Insights report in order to inform the creation of the brand, concept and experience for the outdoor dining experience. The Benchmark Report highlighted the need to use bold colour combinations and the natural world to create an experience in the built environment of a city centre. It also highlighted the need to create a name that was both symbolic and easily located for local residents – hence, the Derby Market Place as a new destination name was reborn.

The Consumer Insights report delved into four key consumer groups that are typically going to use the dining space. This report highlighted their current behaviours, desires and potential objections they may have in not visiting the Derby Market Place. These reports underpinned the subsequent branding design and experience concept that was to follow.


A new brand was created to excite and encourage guests back into the city centre to enjoy an Alfresco Dining Experience and relaunch Derby Market Place with a new identity. A bold colour palette, together with an informal tone of voice, was created and used across signage within the experience, online and offline marketing collateral. Simplicity and boldness were key to delivering a real punch to the city centre space to capture the attention of passers by and across social media. The tone of voice was used to create an immediate approachable environment for guests to feel comfortable within.

This tone of voice was also used to create important, yet informal signs to maintain social distancing guidelines within the experience. 

With the experience earmarked as having the potential to stay beyond its initial three-month period, and the possibility of it hosting markets, festivals, private functions and entertainment, the brand was created with longevity and flexibility in mind. Additional brand idents were created to show the diversity of the brand in meeting the future demands for the space.





3D concept visuals were created to share the vision, align partners and promote the experience to local residents. The visuals of the 330-seater outdoor dining experience included integrating the new brand in the exterior and interior design, while working with the relevant regulatory bodies to understand how the layout could comply with new and existing regulations.

Executions of the space with both retail outlets and an events space were also created, to show flexibility and the potential beyond the initial dining experience.



Following the agreement of our design and concept approach, we rapidly began production working closely with Derby City Council. We organised the production of the event and creative elements, including working with the council on-site readiness. We ensured the timely delivery of critical items to our key partners so that the supply chain could flow due to the speed required from concept to completion.

Throughout the project, Katapult aided in the project’s budget management, ensuring that all the delivered elements chosen matched the design intent, while being of a quality that can withstand the elements for the duration of the event, and all could be achieved within the short time frame to opening.

Once on-site, Katapult were responsible for the art direction to ensure that vision and intent became a reality, with a key mandate of matching the concept visuals as closely as possible. While on-site, we were also on hand to provide problem-solving support, providing quick decisions to enable the space to be open to the public on time. Overall the install was complete in only three days, ready for successful soft launch and opening to the public the very next day. 


The Derby Market Place was an instant hit with over 26,000 guests enjoying the alfresco dining experience in just two months. Weekends typically sold out and, overall, 75% of the capacity was pre-booked. The Market Place also achieved a return on investment of 230% to the local economy.

Derby City Council’s CEO, Paul Simpson said: “A brilliant example of what people can do when they work together. The imagination, creativity and speed in which this has been achieved is breathtaking. So proud of all those that have made this happen in our City and a huge thank you to everyone involved”.

The initiative was also heralded as a key project that helped the city centre’s economy recover from the pandemic. Nationwide research company, Centre for Cities, scored Derby 93% in their Recovery Index due to offline sales rising to 85% of their pre-lockdown figure. A regional high in the Midlands.

There was also a huge uptake of local restaurants being involved with the dining experience since its inception. This was seen as a key metric in supporting the hospitality industry in getting them back to work, providing additional capacity beyond their usual means. Early indications show that the commercial impact to local businesses has been positive.

Photography and video courtesy of ‘AV IT! Media.

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