islington design district map and guide

:: by Lizzie




I’m excited to announce that the Islington Design District, North London’s first ever district, will launch during London Design Festival this year. It seemed about time that Islington secure its place on the map as a fully fledged design destination, so I set about galvanising the best design stores in Islington to come together and create this new collective and here we are. The Festival runs from 13th – 21st September and is one of the world’s most important annual design events. Over 300 events and exhibitions will take place across the city, with the addition of the Islington Design District and I thought I should give you the low-down on what’s happening in Islington during the Festival.


The Islington Design District will form a walkable trail starting in Upper Street with Aria, the twentytwentyone shop, Adventures in Furniture and Coexistence, continuing down to and along Camden Passage where you’ll find Hexagon, Ruberg and SMUG and then passing south of the Angel where you should stop by at Present & Correct, Timorous Beasties and the twentytwentyone showroom. Along your journey you will discover new designers, special product launches, creative activities, exhibitions and one-off design-led events – scroll down for a few of my favourites. An IDD map of the trail (pictured above) can be picked up in any of the 10 design locations (listed at the end of this blog post). Make sure you have your map stamped in every location as presenting a fully stamped map will get you freebies and special offers such as a well-deserved coffee at CAFE SMUG.


CAFE SMUG image below courtesy of Jo Crawford




Join us for an inaugural celebration trail of late night openings and cocktails leading through the showrooms of each of the 9 design partners on Tuesday 16th September  – more details on the fold out maps found in each location. SMUG will be hosting the Islington Design District Launch Party at its 13 Camden Passage shop with launches of new exclusive products from Donna Wilson, Thornback & Peel and Ruby Taylor, cocktails from Kamm & Sons and sweet treats from CAFE SMUG. Ruby Taylor will also be drawing Fruit Portraits downstairs at SMUG so make sure you give yourself time to get imortalised as a piece of fruit on the night.






1. Learn to Screen Print Guinea Pigs & Pineapples with Thornback & Peel upstairs at SMUG

To celebrate our latest collaboration with our friends at Thornback & Peel we are hosting a workshop led by the T&P team where you can screen print our signature Guineas and Pineapples on to hankies to take away. Saturday 13th September. All materials provided. For tickets click here.




And here’s a quick look at the newest piece of the collection launching at SMUG during the Festival – a Guinea Pig and Pineapple Oven Glove.


SMUG OVENG_smugller


2. Get Stamping at Present & Correct

Stationery purveyors Present & Correct introduce their Stamp Station for the Islington Design District. Make your mark over an array of old & new ephemera using a collection of graphic stamps.




3. At Home with the Days at the twentytwentyone showroom

twentytwentyone will host a selling exhibition of a rich and diverse collection of furniture and objects from Robin and Lucienne Day’s home. Items they collected and made during their seventy years together will be on view for the first time. Wonder along to the twentytwentyone showroom on River Street for a browse.


At Home with the Days_cropped


4. The Parisianer at Hexagon

After an exhibition at L’Hôtel de Ville in Paris, Hexagone is delighted to partner with Image Republic for the UK launch of The Parisianer. In honour of famous New Yorker covers, contemporary illustrators and cartoonists express their vision of Paris on the cover of an imaginary magazine.




5. Have your Woollen Fruit Personalised at SMUG by the Donna Wilson Team

Donna Wilson has designed a series of Woollen Fruit especially for SMUG to launch during London Design Festival 2014. Have yours personalised with your own name stitched in by a member of the Donna Wilson team. 2 – 4pm Saturday 20th September upstairs at SMUG. For more info on how to get yours click here.






‘my angel’ area guide

:: by Lizzie

This year marks SMUG’s fifth birthday since opening on Camden Passage, so founder Lizzie Evans talks to Mark Kebble of The Angel Resident about why Islington is the place for her.




What new things can we expect to see at SMUG this spring?

Workshops! We’re now running workshops upstairs at SMUG every Sunday. Designers, tutors and friends of SMUG are running classes on book binding, screen printing, origami, millinery, flower arranging and more. It’s a great way to learn a new skill and spend an afternoon in our cosy design space. We’re hoping we’ll have a café set up downstairs too for tea and cake.


Is there one particular thing flying out of the shop door at the moment?

Our Pineapple and Guinea Pig patterned Tea Towel is just wonderful and catching everyone’s imagination. Peach pineapples and duck egg guineas – what could be better? I worked on the design with Thornback and Peel who have produced it exclusively for us and I’m so happy with the result. Apron and oven gloves coming soon too.


Also something we’ve noticed on the side is your blog. How much do you enjoy producing The Smuggler website?

The Smuggler, my blog at, is a really satisfying opportunity for me to have my own voice, inside and running parallel to the world of SMUG. I am The Smuggler so I’m able to write about food, interior design, fashion, the cities I love, my hotel reviews for A Hotel Life and design in general. In short, my inspirations and loves. There are lots of posts for the SMUG insider too. It gives me the space and the platform to interview SMUG illustrators for example and to include my visits on sourcing trips to design fairs or gift guides I’ve been working on, so hopefully there’s something for everyone.


How long have you been based on Camden Passage for now?

It’s coming up to five years. SMUG will be five in June. My plan has always been to launch my own collection of homeware for SMUG’s fifth year, so I’d better get on with that!


Did you always want to open a shop here?

For me there was no other location than Camden Passage. It was always going to be SMUG’s home as soon as I had the idea to open a design shop in Islington. It just seemed right. Camden Passage seems to beautifully hold in tension, being at the heart of Islington but also off the beaten track. There aren’t many other places like it.


What’s great about being based along Camden Passage?

The history of Camden Passage makes it special and the antiques markets bring the history back to life. Also the people. I have found it to be a lovely and welcoming area – shopkeepers, stallholders and locals alike. I enjoy being part of something a bit more independent than the chains of Upper Street.


You are an Islington girl through and through aren’t you?

I am definitely an Islington girl through and through. I’ve lived in Islington my whole life, went to school here, go to church here, my family’s here, it’s my home. I know it and live it and it’s always best to work with/in what you know I think.


What’s the best thing about living here?

If you’ve lived here your whole life like I have it really is like living in a village. I often see someone I know in the street or in a restaurant and stop for a chat. But it’s London through and through. Food, shops, parks, the buzz. I love it.


Apart from your shop, where else do you enjoy visiting retail-wise?

I like a walk and a shop along Stoke Newington Church Street. Nook for gifts, Hub for womenswear, random alleyways and garages for vintage furniture. This mix of my favourite things, combined with meat from Meat, fresh bread from Spence and a bunch of flowers from one of the many florists make a perfect Sunday.


Do you have a favourite restaurant and bar?

Ottolenghi every day of the week. Sometimes literally. If I’m coming for lunch, usually with my mum, we’re welcomed like queens. If I’m just popping in for a sweet treat I don’t even need to order, they know what I’m after: the chocolate pecan cookie.


How about coffee shop?

The Place at 11 Canonbury Place in Canonbury has the best coffee in Islington and the décor is rather lovely too! I fitted it out with vintage Formica tables and 50s chairs for my brother who is the chef and runs the business. It’s such a lovely spot to while away the hours. I don’t drink coffee, but they serve delicious hot chocolate and well as perfect freshly squeezed orange juice. All the food is wonderful and the welcome (even if you’re not a member of the family) lovely.


If out for an evening of culture, where would you head to?

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 run by my father, so soirees there are always a nice evening. My husband and I probably now spend most of the time entertaining in our newly decorated art deco flat next to Clissold Park.


Do you have a favourite building in the area?

Yes, the old Arsenal Stadium in Highbury. The period of architecture is right up my street not to mention the obvious emotional connections. A wonderful building. A wonderful place.


Finally Lizzie, is there one spot in Islington you like to head to and get away from it all?

Clissold Park. Whether for a run, a picnic, lawn bowls, a paddle in the summer or simply watching the deer, it’s my favourite spot.





camden passage shopping guide

:: by Lizzie
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Earlier this month Time Out got in touch asking me to write an area guide for North London specifically focusing on Camden Passage. It appeared in yesterday’s Time Out and here’s my uncut version.


I opened my shop here because

I’m a local Islington girl and have always loved Camden Passage’s pedestrianised street. I remember spending my pocket money in the antiques market when I was small. Now as an all-grown-up interior stylist/shop keeper I think it’s the perfect location to avoid the chains of Upper Street yet still be in the heart of Islington. I’m lucky enough to have 3 floors of shop which is pretty hard to find in the area, and a lovely area it is.




The area is great at Christmas because

Camden Passage offers the original, stylish and savvy Christmas shopper, of any age, everything they could wish for: design and gift shops like SMUG, Hexagon and Odyssey where you can pick up something well made, useful and beautiful; Paul A Young’s gorgeous chocolate shop and the new cheese shop by Pistachio & Pickle for expertly handmade sweet and savoury treats; to die for vintage clothing at Fat Faced Cat and Annie’s; Loop for all the wool your trendy sister or lovely Granny could hope for. And lots of places to stop along the way for a bite to eat and a coffee.




For a break/pitstop, go to

CoffeeWorks has the best coffee and rather fabulous brownies – if you haven’t already pick up one from Paul A Young. I usually go for their fresh OJ or a fresh mint tea if I can get a seat. I also love a lunch at Frederick’s. Their 2 or 3 course set menu for lunch is delicious, good value and portions are a sensible size so wont hinder your shopping plans.


People tend to buy

Our woollen blankets are the hot favourite with customers at this time of year. They’re 100% British wool, British made for SMUG and only £47. Most people buy two – one as a gift and one for themselves! Our hand screened SMUG exclusive Napkin Box Set is rather popular too. Thornback & Peel have hand screened the entire thing for us – box and all! Inside you will find 2 Guinea Pig linen union napkins – 1 duck egg, 1 putty and 2 Pineapple linen union napkins – 1 peach, 1 mustard. Totally exclusive to SMUG and perfect for Christmas dinner.




For a one-stop shop, got to

The SMUG Christmas SHOP upstairs on our second floor is full of new designers work for under £20. Perfect for stocking fillers and Christmas gifts. Think geometric paper tree decorations, hand screened hankies, cherry wood engraved bow ties, colourful hand screened sail boat plushes for your little ones, man-friendly scented candles, handmade stationery and coasters with drawings of dogs on them!




When I’m not here, I shop at

I live just by Clissold Park so when I’m near home and looking to shop local for a gift I like to pop to nook on Stoke Newington Church Street. I also love The Peanut Vendor on Newington Green for vintage homeware and furniture finds.




People don’t know it, but

Present & Correct is a little hidden gem of a stationery shop. Not too far from SMUG on Arlington Way, Present & Correct is full of beautifully styled stationery pieces – old and new. It’s a dream of a shop.




Budget option

The Antiques Market itself – best on Saturdays – is full of vintage bargains. Lovely old brooches, letterpress stamps, kitchen linens, ceramic ornaments, tins – I love old tins – and lots more can be found.


Blow out option

twentytwentyone isn’t technically Camden Passage – it’s Upper Street – but it is the best design shop in Islington in my opinion. Over the last year or so they have tripled in size and are looking all the better for it. Most things are upper scale budget-wise but if you can afford them your purchases will be enjoyed for years to come.


And when you’ve really had enough

St Mary’s church on Upper Street is open every day for a little sit down, reflection and a moment’s peace in all the Christmas retail chaos.


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