Transforming spaces, inviting experiences: The art of food hall design with DV8 Designs

In recent years, the hospitality industry has witnessed a transformative trend with the popularity of food halls within the heart of local communities. DV8 Designs, a pioneering interior design company, stands at the forefront of this movement, reshaping the landscape of food halls through innovative and user centric approaches. Managing Director Lee Birchall sheds light on key design features, current trends and the company’s unique perspective on crafting successful food hall environments.

DV8 Designs, Managing Director Lee Birchall

DV8 Designs recognise the importance of providing an array of options within a food hall. According to Birchall, the appeal lies in the diversity of choice – from burritos to curry, to coffee and cake. Inevitably, choice in culinary offerings means that a broad and varied customer base is catered for, appealing to different tastes, preferences and dietary requirements. This inclusivity enhances the overall customer experience, whilst encouraging a sense of community – making the food hall a social hub.

Sefton Council’s Southport Market

DV8 Designs approaches food hall design with inclusivity and diversity in mind. Birchall highlights the company’s focus on catering to large groups, ensuring there is something for everyone. Recent DV8 projects such as Sefton Council’s Southport Market and Salt and Tar in Bootle exemplify this approach, where operational efficiency, purpose and function are just as crucial as aesthetics.

Sefton Council’s Southport Market

The ideal setting for a food hall according to Birchall, strikes a balance between aesthetics and functionality. The company places a strong emphasis on operational ease, purpose and function, ensuring a lively environment that attracts the footfall to the local area.

Furthermore, the significance of the bar as a revenue generator should not be forgotten, and should almost certainly play the star of the show within any food hall. For this reason, DV8 always employ an operator mindset when embarking on new projects, acknowledging the cruciality of revenue generative features within each design. This insight can be also be evidenced in successful projects such as Southport Market, where the bar operator plays a fundamental role in the venue’s overall success. Indeed, in the first 24 hours of opening, the market – which has since become a ‘good practice case study’ for councils across the UK, welcomed more than ten thousand customers through its doors, and sold a massive 94,588 pints of beer in its first year.

Sefton Council’s Southport Market

Where revenue is concerned, it is also important to consider the local economy. A market or food hall can serve as an incubator for local small business – acting as a catalyst for new trade due to shared operating costs, lower entry barriers, exposure to a high foot traffic and a collaborative atmosphere. Communal settings foster adaptability, which is why it is so important that each food hall design facilitates collaboration between vendors – maximising shared resources whilst minimalizing costs. A well thought out design enhances visibility for each vendor, encouraging exploration by a diverse customer based and increasing exposure for local businesses.

Salt and Tar in Bootle

The design and layout of a food hall can ultimately play a pivotal role in creating this incubator environment that empowers local small businesses to thrive, innovate and contribute to the culinary vibrancy of the community, which can only benefit the local economy.

Regeneration is high on the agenda of most councils in the UK, and there has definitely been an increase in the purchase interest of heritage places, with the aim of providing a new lease of life and a brand new purpose – and with that, a brand new audience. Think Macclesfield Market which was an old picture house, Duke Street Market that was an old garage, or Cutlery Works in Sheffield which was a former cutlery factory. These were previously under-used and un-loved buildings which are now thriving environments for changing perceptions, whilst delivering a world class, European style food hall to local communities.

EngineRooms at Birchwood Park

Remaining ahead of industry trends is a priority for DV8 Designs, which enables them to create showstopping designs that councils are excited about. Drawing inspiration from successful UK and European food markets, the company is able to support economic growth by integrating cultural models that encourage social eating and sharing new experiences within their designs.

EngineRooms at Birchwood Park

DV8 Designs has left an indelible mark on food hall transformations, with award winning projects such as Southport Market seamlessly integrating with town regeneration plans. Nationally recognised for effective integration with surrounding uses and contribution to the local economy, Southport Market is a testament to DV8 Designs’ ability to create thriving community environments that everyone can enjoy.

Reflecting on their philosophy, Birchall encapsulates DV8 Design’s approach, emphasizing that it is not just about aesthetics, but also operational ease, purpose and function. The company’s work continues to enhance places by redefining communal dining experiences by providing sustainable and regenerative solutions which in turn shapes the future – where communities live, visit and socialise.


About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
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