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one of my favourite kooky lifestyle shops in islington has just turned five, and i was delighted to be asked along to help celebrate their birthday in style and host a little q&a session in their courtyard with SMUG owner, lizzie evans.

i remember the first time i stumbled across this delightful interiors emporium in camden passage, as i made my way one early weekend morning to nearby breakfast club with a friend. pressing my face up against the window i cooed over the eclectic array of colourful homewares, stationery and vintage furniture that filled every corner of the stylish store and eagerly counted down the minutes during brunch until i could set foot inside to explore.

local islingtonian lizzie has turned this old trade store (which was once covered floor-to-ceiling in carpet!) into a light and airy designed space filled with 1950s furniture, handmade toys, gorgeous stationery, quirky kitchenware, and chic ceramics expanding over three floors of a rickety, old terrace house. in the past five years the narrow shop premises have organically evolved, with the expansion into newly purchased floors as well as into the outdoor space at the rear of the basement floor.

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lizzie has worked hard to carefully curate the light and airy shop space, as well as developing SMUG’s distinctive style through exclusive collaborations with local designers and brands that have perfectly aligned design aesthetics to lizzie’s own. to celebrate the store’s 5th birthday, five exclusive products have been introduced from matt pugh (5), kangan arora (2 & 3), thornback & peel (4) and SMUG’s own laura gee (1).

lizzie told us that she liked to be as involved as possible in the creative process of these products, helping to choose the correct colourways and pattern alignments to achieve the perfect SMUG-ness. the thornback & peel apron draws upon lizzie’s love of pineapples as well as incorporating the brand’s distinctive guinea pig logo, which came about through a chance illustration next to the definition of the word ‘smug’ in an 18th century dictionary, when it meant ‘to smarten up’ – a far cry from today’s connotation!

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down in the basement a new weekend café has just opened, supplied by local east london bakery yeast and serving coffee from artisan coffee roasters ozone. open from 12-5pm every saturday and sunday, the SMUG basement café offers a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of camden passage‘s antiques arcade outside.

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so, happy birthday SMUG – here’s to the next five years!

SMUG, 13 camden passage, islington, n1 


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  1. Helen

    8 July

    Amazing pics Kate – and so many brilliant anecdotes remembered! H xxx

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