What?: Ok, so SMUG is not a kids’ shop. If anything it’s a sort of anti-kids’ shop selling all the things you would buy if you didn’t cohabit with an under-five whose very existence means you cannot have nice things. It inhabits about the least buggy-friendly building in the world, being down a cobbled street, incredibly small and narrow, and featuring numerous staircases.
It is not remotely child-proof, with many items being within easy reach of even the most diminutive of toddlers and dangerously smash-able, rip-able and/or swallowable. It is sort of like the very beautiful home of your revoltingly stylish, child-free friend who hasn’t invited you over since that time your offspring pulverised her Georg Jensen fruit bowl.
But while the shop floor itself might not scream “bring forth the urchin”, SMUG’s playful, good-quality homeware and small but beautiful kids’ offer – not to mention the dinky lower-ground weekend cafe serving soul-reviving coffee, and its exciting programme of grown-up workshops – makes it a tempting prospect for those currently attempting to bring up small children.
The collection of items marked ‘Kids’ Stuff’ on SMUG’s website could just as easily be bought for adults, and consists of old-school stationery items including Milan rubbers and Penco rulers; cute and colourful backpacks and pencil cases by Komodo; Donna Wilson for SMUG knitted fruit; and a variety of embroidered pins, simple prints and cosy blankets.
SMUG also stocks the brilliant Lunch Lady, a quarterly magazine about food and family, and a lush selection of cards and natural wrapping paper – much of which would be suitable to gift to a child (or, y’know, not). And don’t overlook the beautiful octet of kelim rugs from ferm LIVING, the whimsical animal prints and &Klevering’s super-cool toucan money box – all perfect for a design-led nursery.
Upcoming workshops in SMUG’s dedicated learning space include subjects as diverse as Luxe Brush Lettering, Social Media, Emailing Marketing and Terrarium Making – all great for parents who are looking to learn a new skill before returning to work, or just a happy distraction those who would like to focus their brain on something other than their child for five bloody minutes.
Where?: SMUG is located at 13 Camden Passage, Islington, and is a four-minute walk from Angel (Northern), 12 from Essex Road (mainline) and 17 from Highbury & Islington (Victoria, Overground).
Price Range: Expect to pay from 40p for a rubber up to £599 for a ferm LIVING tabletop. Sheets of gift wrap cost £2 each, cushions are priced from £50 to £80 and a set of woollen fruit will set you back £60.
Best Bits: The guinea pig-printed paper bags are life.
Worst Bits: Narrow, lots of stairs and the cafe is only open at the weekend.
Did We Buy?: Not on this occasion but I bought a guinea pig tote as a gift once.
Would We Come Back?: Yes.