If I am out for an evening of culture... the Screen on the Green for an 80s classic or maybe the Union Chapel for a gig. There’s now a Gallery downstairs at The Place ran by my father so soirees there are always a nice evening. My husband and I probably now spend most of time entertaining in our newly decorated art deco flat next to Clissold Park.
Yellow geometric merino wool blanket, £96 from SMUG.
Yellow wooden owl in oak by Matt Pugh, £28 from SMUG.
We love this coloured porcelain range from Scholten & Baijings, which looks great in our kitchen, and SMUG is the only shop in London stocking it. Prices range from £33-£320.
Buys in the hood
The West End has its charms, but for a more peaceful way to wrap up Christmas, go to local. Five indie boutique owners walk us down London’s best independent shopping streets
Isington local Lizzie Evans – owner of lifestyle store Smug – explains why Camden Passage in Angel is the perfect north London Christmas shopping destination
‘I’m a local Islington girl and have always loved Camden Passage…
I remember spending my pocket money in the antiques market here when I was young. It still seems the perfect place to avoid Upper Street’s chains.’
‘Camden passage is great at Christmas…
because it offers the original savvy shopper everything they could wish for. There are design shops like Hexagon and Odyssey where you can pick up something well made, useful and beautiful, and there’s Paul A Young’s gorgeous chocolate shop, and cheese store Pistachio & Pickle. There is also to-die-for vintage clothing at Fat Faced Cat and Annie’s.’
‘When I need a pick-me-up…
I go to CoffeeWorks at the top of Camden Passage. It has the best coffee and rather fabulous brownies.’
‘My shop s especially festive this year…
there’s a Smug Christmas shop on the second floor which is full of work by new designers – all under £20. There are geometric paper tree decorations, hand-screened hankies, handmade stationary and coasters with drawings of dogs on them!’
‘People don’t always know its there…
but Present & Correct is a hidden gem. It’s a lovely boutique on Arlington Way (around he corner from my shop) which sells beautiful stationary, both old and new.’
‘To pick up cheap gifts…
Come to Camden passage on market days (that’s Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday), when antiques dealers line the streets and sell lovely old brooches, letterpress stamps, kitchen linens, ceramic ornaments, tins, and lots, lots more.’
‘And when you’ve really had enough retail… the nearby St Mary’s Church on Upper Street is open every day for a little sit-down, some reflection and a moments peace amid all the Christmas chaos.’
SHOP WATCH - Feeling Smug
Smug is a vision of homeware loveliness, the perfect fix for anyone in search of well-designed products to enhance their décor. No surprise proprietor Lizzie Evans is also a graphic and interior designer, offering the Smug brand as an appealing mix of the bold and gently eccentric, from vintage furniture to natty stationery, with each room in the home lovingly catered for. Lizzie champions British designers and maintains a regular rotation of craft and print works, all housed within her perfectly located Camden Passage store.
Smug, 13 Camden Passage N1 020 7354 0253 ifeelsmug.com
The line-up: Art for children
A-Z print by Charlotte Trounce at Smug
Smug’s tiny boutique in Islington’s Camden Passage has an eye for the knowingly and humorously bourgeois, as you would expect from its name. It has some witty prints suitable for a child’s bedroom, including this limited edition, by illustrator Charlotte Trounce, of old-school gymnasts contorted into the alphabet, £25.
Red Hot House:
Fire up your home this February with a selection of red tone interiors
1. Guinea pig tea towels, £13.50 each, hand printed by Thornback and Peel for SMUG interiors.
Graphic designer Lizzie Evans has decked out this lovely lifestyle boutique with all her favourite things; the result is a space that’s a labour of love as well as a canny commercial move. With its well-edited selection of home accessories, such as owl ceramic candlesticks and gorgeous teacups and saucers, as well as vintage homewares such as Welsh blankets and 1950s and ‘60s furniture (of the Formica and Maid Server ilk) you can see why she might be proud of it. Pixi makeup, rainbow kitchen accessories, homemade brooches, old fashioned notebooks, retro and knitted toys, stylish watches and clocks, colourful cushions and a range of tea towels and men’s T-shirts emblazoned with cool graphic print are further draws, and various Smug exclusives are available.
Billed as a ‘concept boutique’, Smug opened on this quaint passage in 2009 and is curated by the cheerful graphic and interior designer Lizzie Evans. Expanding over three floors of a rickety, old terrace house, the narrow premises were totally reworked and now feel like a welcoming and somewhat retro home. In case you’re wondering, the name refers to the 18th century definition of ‘smug’, which meant ‘to smarter up’ – it’s a far cry from today’s connotation.
Evans introduces a treasure trove of new and vintage homewares, with a distinct bias for anything midcentury. An intriguing window lures you into a ground floor displayed with unusual accessories, prints, cards, stationery and toys, many of which are ideal for gifts or impulse purchases. In the light filled basement, melamine and vintage kitchenware prevails, with colourful glassware, muted ceramics and some candy coloured accessories in abundance. The top floor is dedicated to ‘living’, its texture-rich scrap-wood floor a warm, earth complement to cushions, woven textiles, vintage furniture and artwork. Evan’s Top Ten Gift Ideas is an ever-changing display of her favourite finds.
Evan’s passion is clearly the force behind Smug’s sass. She supports young designers and niche producers and is true to her conviction that her wares should be affordable and, as often as possible, unique to the shop.
Lizzie Evans has every reason to feel smug. At just 27, she presides over three floors of Islington retail that have been breathing fresh air into the area’s interiors offerings for the past two years. In fact, the store’s name alludes to an "old dictionary definition that defines it as smartening up one’s self or a room – basically, interior design”.
Smug came into being after Evans, who studied interior architecture, redesigned the Camden Passage space owned by her family. "I ended up renting it,” she says.
"I didn’t realize I wanted a shop, then it just happened.” Though not without a few detours: struggling to open by Christmas 2008, Smug popped up elsewhere – in the kitchen of Evans’s parents’ nearby home. Apparently, they were thrilled: "We were living out of a little space in the kitchen and had endless microwave meals.”
The store now exudes a similarly homey feel. "I didn’t want it fitted out white with glass shelves,” says Evans. "I wanted the stock on vintage furniture. But I wasn’t planning on selling the furniture… The first weekend we were open, people asked, ‘How much is the table?’ It’s now a big part of what we do.”
On the ground floor are the more quick-fire purchases. A stationery selection included neat notebooks (from £2.50) and chic laminated rulers by Offcut (£11), laid out on the Smug-standard vintage Formica tables (from £90) alongside a selection of cards, such as Stacie Swift’s quirky animal illustrations (£2.75). The counter is filled with crafty jewellery and retro Casio watches (from £28), soft toys made from old jumpers (rabbits £35) spill out of drawers, and there’s a stack of recycled "random wool” picnic blankets (£28), which "sell like hot cakes”.
Downstairs is dedicated to kitchen – and homewares, from the bestselling melamine teaspoons (£6 for six) and vintage Poole teacups (£55 for six) to Lisa Stickley’s printed oven mitts (£14) – and more Formica.
Upstairs, you’ll step onto a reclaimed wood floor that is in fact an artwork by Henry Krokatsis, owned by Evans’ father and brother, who run a contemporary art business one floor further up. Art makes its way onto the walls here too, as with the current exhibition by Argentinian Cesar Paternosto, while lined out on a low sideboard is the Smug Top 10 – a handy barometer for gifts that often features the exclusive rustic bowls of French ceramicist Natalie Colombel (£32).
Exclusives are something Evans is keen to expand on, so there’s a special yellow version of Matt Pugh’s stylized oak and walnut owl ornament (£28) and a Smug-only Bunny cushion form the now-well-known Donna Wilson (£68). After all, "It’s nice to have something other people don’t.”
Tucked away between the ubiquitous antique shops of Islington's Camden Passage, new comer Smug may be bijou, but it stocks a neat range of 1950s homeware that sits perfectly with current designers such as Donna Wilson and Lisa Stickley. Best finds include some vintage sugar shakers and gorgeous Welsh wool blankets.
13 Camden Passage, N1 8EA(73540253/www.ifeelsmug.com). Angel tube, 11am-6pm Wed; noon-7pm Thur; 11am-6pm Fri, Sat; noon-5pm Sun.
Ceramic Owl Candlestick Holder, £12.
Each pot is hand coiled, slip decorated and then for the final firing embellished with line drawings that endeavour to capture different identities through illustrating the objects we choose to define ourselves. Pets and cars feature alongside caravans, picket fences and trainers. Post War Architecture held dear the premise that nothing could be too good for the common man - but who is he? This question preoccupies the English, and is a question Emilie has asked herself and others since childhood when moving between the localities of different family members in Sheffield and experiencing the complex snobbery prevalent throughout British society. What are we trying to identify, or contain?
Vintage inspired throws and beautiful glassware, mixed together with bright and popping colours; this is the brainchild of a talented young designer.
Vintage and the new co-exist in harmony in this stylish shop.
Smug – nestled in the well-known and popular antique market of Camden passage – is a new and exciting boutique where you can find an eclectic mix of new and vintage homewares. Lizzie, the store owner, has had a soft spot for antiques since she was a young girl. Now, not only is she a graphic designer but also collects and sells antique items and supports young, talented designers by stocking their creations. On the ground floor you can find items such as cosmetics and stationary and in the basement, kitchenware. The first floor looks as if it could be a window into Lizzie’s own home, filled with more homeware such as furniture and graphic prints. Everything you’d need to decorate your space with can be found in Lizzie’s boutique; it’s the dream home that everyone hopes to achieve.
Translation by Roxana Mirshahi
Hello Lizzie, what is your role at SMUG? I guess I'm the creator, curator and custodian of SMUG. I designed the building, managed the building project, designed the brand identity including the website www.ifeelsmug.com, source all of the stock, style the space, and I even do the accounts with a little help from my uncle!
When did you open the store? The store was opened in June 2009 on two floors. In November of the same year we introduced a 3rd floor of homewares which opens at the weekends.
What was the original idea or concept? I
wanted to create a 'home'-like space where people could really get a sense of
what a 50s Formica table, anglepoise lamp, Donna Wilson cushion or contemporary
artwork might look like in their home. I always wanted SMUG to be, not the way
people saw me, but they way they felt when they found something just perfect
for them in a friendly little shop in Camden Passage. Like they'd been let into
a secret and become part the SMUG family.
You have spoken about a division of three floors. What
type of products are on each floor? The lower ground floor is
full of kitchenware, vintage and new. 1930s heavy pressed glass jugs sit along
side enamel pots and pans and brightly coloured melamine cups. Hand screened
and locally sourced tea towels hang over the backs of 50s kitchen chairs and
dustpan and brushes made from oiled beech and horsehair hang from the walls.
The ground floor is filled with quirky stationary from vintage looking exercise books to rulers made from reclaimed hardwoods and laminates. We also carry the exquisite make up range 'Pixi' which sits on a yellow vintage dressing table. There are also trunks full of toys handmade from vintage jumpers and monkeys made from furnishing fabrics as well as the jewellery by young London based designers laid under glass in the cash desk.
The 1st floor houses Stag sideboards, vintage floral Eiderdowns, welsh wool blankets both new and vintage, cushions by Donna Wilson and Emma Loves Retro and 40s mirrors and contemporary Italian clocks line the walls.
Bright and beautiful; so alluring you’ll want it all.
Whether they’re from decades past or by an unknown designer, Lizzie, a graphic designer, collects all of her favourite things to deck out in her boutique. In the basement you’ll find anything from rainbow coloured melamine cups to Parisian antiques, while the ground floor is filled with goods by the likes of Donna Wilson. The first floor gallery captures what Smug is all about – feeling good.
Left - Smug opened in the lively market of Angel two years ago.
Below - £5 kitsch goods. The displays are so inviting they draw you inside.
Translation by Roxana Mirshahi