The lower half of Upper Street, Islington is largely dominated by high street stores, cafes and restaurants, but in amongst the landscape are a couple of real finds and behind Upper Street, on Camden Passage, is a whole street of antique shops, cafes and boutiques.
We started our walk today a few streets north of Islington Green at After Noah.
After Noah is a beautiful furniture and accessory shop that carries a wide range of styles and pieces. Their ground floor is largely given over to accessories, gifts and decoration and their basement features a rich mix of genuine vintage and vintage-style pieces. Overall the look in After Noah is somewhere between mid century modern and luxury Victorian (think index card drawers, old globes, gobstoppers and enamelled metal pendant lights). The basement features Eames-style loungers and Ercol and G-Plan Vintage and G-Plan Edit furniture and the owners do their own furniture restoration, meaning that in amongst the modern vintage-style pieces, there are authentic solid teak sideboards and dressers and nests of tables ranging from the hundreds to the thousands of pounds. No-one’s going to mistake one of these as coming from IKEA!
If your look is more French than British or Scandi, a few streets down from After Noah is HEXAGONE, a french lifestyle concept store inspired by the culture, identity and aesthetic of France. Taking its name from the peculiar way the French themselves refer to France as a hexagon (I suppose if you squint really hard like you’re drawing on a Gauloise in a recreation of a scene from A Bout de Souffle you can just about see it), the store features iconic French brands across home, fashion, beauty, household, stationery and kids. There’s no stink of untipped cigarettes inside, mind you, as the shop is filled with the scent of candles under rather grand glass cloches. I don’t know anywhere else you can buy so many authentic French pieces under one roof, without hopping on the Eurostar. And with Brexit hanging over us and the pound dropping faster than a round of shots at the Moulin Rouge, a quick trip to London N1 is probably a better bet.
Following down Camden Passage itself, you could spend an easy afternoon filling up on chocolates, Debreziner sausages, fried breakfasts, and craft beers. But we are here to shop, not eat.
For Antiques, there are three markets made up of a range of stalls. Just up from Hexagone is the semi-open air Charlton Place Market which, amidst the whiff of fry ups and the queue for The Breakfast Club carries small antiques and collectables on Wednesday and Saturday, while Pierrepoint Market carries antiques at the same times and books on Thursdays and Fridays.
In and around Camden Passage and the side streets, there are around 50 or so different premises (including the cafes and restaurants), so inevitably you really need to go there to shop your own style, but we at The Idealist love the following:
Home & Pantry carry the rustic and shabby chic style best suited to French country houses, well-appointed townhouses and Cotswold farms (translation: that look that says you’re old money, rather than a city boy burning a bonus on bling).
Caroline Carrier carries antique English porcelain and pottery and French porcelain (Quimper and Rouen) from 1900 onwards: perfect to go with the Languedoc farmhouse you imagined furnishing with stuff from Hexagone and Home & Pantry!
Modern Times specialise in 20th century design homewares, particularly drinking glasses, tea sets, dinner sets, teacups and small pieces of furniture. They have 2 locations in Camden Passage, one focusing on homewares and the other on furniture pieces.
Finally (and just at the end of Camden Passage before you turn back onto Upper Street) is a beautiful branch of Sofa.com. The building is a work of art in itself. It’s a former tram shed from the 1850s which was used for commuter services to the City. Once the trams had ceased in the 1940s it became an electricity substation and then in the 80s an Antiques Arcade which at one point had over 30 different dealers. It’s been a few different things in recent years including a branch of Jack Wills and Superdry, but is now a much more fitting furnishing store. We loved the bold colours of the velvet sofas and the beautiful parquet floor.
- After Noah – 121 Upper St, London N1 1QP, 020 7359 4281
- Camden Passage, Islington, London N1 8EA.
- Caroline Carrier, 1 Pierrepont Arcade, Angel, Islington, London N1 8EF
- Hexagone, 12B Camden Passage. London N1 8ED. 0207 288 1444
- Home & Pantry, 114 Islington High Street, Angel, Islington, London N1 8EG
- Modern Times Vintage Homewares, 34A Islington Green, London, N1 8DU
- Modern Times Furniture Shop, 3 Islington Green, London, N1 8DU
- Sofa.com – The Mall, 359 Upper Street, London, N1 0PD (Nearest Tube: Angel (Northern Line), then head up Upper Street past the York Pub and sofa.com)