SMUG turns 5 – living etc interview

:: by Lizzie


Living Etc’s Kate Worthington interviews Lizzie Evans to hear all about SMUG’s 5th birthday celebrations and exclusives as well as SMUG’s plans for the future.


Lizzie Evans is the owner and creative director of design emporium SMUG, located in Islington’s Camden Passage. Selling a delightful mix of vintage furniture, kitchenalia, textiles and prints, the store is celebrating its 5th year this summer.


When and how did you get into interiors?

I studied Interior and Spacial Design in London but my interest in interiors actually started long before that. There’s a series of children’s books called Happy Families and my particular favourite when I was little was Mrs Wobble the Waitress. Mrs Wobble got sacked from her waitressing job because she kept dropping food on customers. Her family had the idea of turning their own home in to a restaurant so she could continue waitressing. The kids had nets and roller skates so that they could catch anything their mother might drop when she wobbled. I still remember my excitement over the pages of the book about the transformation of their house into a restaurant and from then on I wanted to do interior design and styling.


Who or what helped you to develop your creative eye?

My parents are pretty cool and have their own personal style which I’m sure has influenced me. My dad collects contemporary art and modernist chairs so I’ve grown up around beautiful and well made things that inspire me.


Which product gave Smug its big break?

People seem to really love the products screened with our Guinea Pig – the SMUG logo. We have our own tote with him on and our friends at Thornback & Peel produce lots of gorgeous kitchen textiles for us with him and our pineapple too. They seem to be the pieces that get the most press and have a bit of a following.




Do you have an all-time favourite piece from Smug over the years?

Ooh, that’s a hard one. Difficult to choose. I’ll always love our Matt Pugh Owls. So simple and classic. It’s lovely to have our own yellow, peach and now pale blue exclusive colour ways.



Pale Blue Owls in Oak and Walnut by Matt Pugh, £28 each


What’s your own home like?

My own home is a bit like SMUG but with some mid century modern thrown in. My husband is also in retail and design so it’s a coming together of our two personal styles. We have a lot of ornaments and cacti!


Where do you go for inspiration and finding product for the shop?

I travel. Paris, New York, Buenos Aires, Amsterdam, Stockholm etc etc


Which designers or brands do you admire in the industry?

Rosie Moss is a new up and coming illustrator/textile designer and I find her really inspiring. She draws all her patterns and illustrations by hand, makes the screens herself, hand screens the fabric and then sews and rivets the individual pieces together herself. Beautiful results from a really impressive process. We’re proud to sell her work.


How will you be celebrating Smug’s 5th Birthday this year?

To celebrate our 5th birthday we’ve launched CAFÉ SMUG. Think delicious pastries from yeast bakery, fresh coffee from Ozone Coffee Roasters and freshly baked cakes and cookies. We’re also launching 5 new exclusive products to celebrate our 5th birthday by Matt Pugh, Thornback & Peel, Kangan Arora and Laura Gee.



Cushion by Kangan Arora, £39


Were there any particular disasters or triumphs over the last 5 years that you can tell us about?

5 years ago when I first opened SMUG I hoped to myself that one day SMUG would be the FT How To Spend It Cult Shop. So when I got the email from the FT whilst lying on a beach in Tobago in 2011 (the same day that Arsenal beat Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League clash) I was super excited and rather taken aback. Lots of lovely things have happened since then but that will always go down as a very good day.


What would you say your trademark look is?

The right colour palette is a big thing at SMUG. Yellow, peach, mint and pale blue seem to be our trade mark colours at the mo. And there are our well loved guinea pig and pineapple emblems of course.



Guinea Pig and Pineapple Apron by Thornback & Peel, £24


Trends I can see happening at the moment include…

It’s quite a nice moment for SMUG as everyone seems to be loving pineapples so we’re right on trend. We had a similar thing with owls when we first opened.


What’s next for Smug?

SMUG (and I) are proud to announce that it is one of the founding 9 design shops of the newly formed Islington Design District. IDD is launching as an official design district this September as part of the London Design Festival 2014, an exciting new design venture for Islington.

We will kick off this inaugural year spearheading IDD for the London Design Festival from 13th – 21st September with a very SMUG programme of fantastic design-led activities, workshops and an exciting new project by Donna Wilson exclusively for SMUG. We’re pretty excited.