‘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 www.the-smuggler.com, 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.