After Noah in London N1 is a wonderful store selling furniture, ‘furniment’ (furnishings, accoutrements, decorations and fittings), toys, games and restored pieces from bygone eras mixed in with contemporary products … Hence the name ‘After Noah,’ they sell anything after Noah!
The shop carries a wide range of products – large comfy leather sofas, antique French wrought iron bedsteads as well as contemporary counterparts, handmade English and French kitchen tables, restored telephones, vintage children’s furniture and toys, jewellery, linens, salvaged industrial lamps, modern Italian lamps, kitchenware, bathroom accessories, gifts and much more. All brought together from the most diverse sources imaginable – working with new designers, scouring antique fairs across the country and frequent trips to continental Europe and America. To give you an idea of what you can find in the store, Matthew Crawford (one of the owners) has selected 5 items;
Oxford Leather Armchair, £699
Aubin Jointed Teddy Bear, £42
Barn Wall Light, £37
Alphabet Rubber Stamp Sets, £18.99
Sherbet Fountain, 65p
The shop is owned by Matthew Crawford, his wife Zoë Candlin and two part owners – Simon Tarr and Nathalie Hankey, who have been instrumental in growing the business. Matthew’s background is in furniture restoration, undertaking his apprenticeship with his grandfather before opening up his own workshop and Zoë is a textile designer. They decided to set up After Noah together in May 1990 with a mission to break the mould of stuffy antique shops where you were too embarrassed to ask the price. Matthew explains “our background in antique furniture restoration, made bridging the gap between stuffy antique shops and twee, samey gift shops, by selling antique and vintage items mixed with contemporary homeware a real goal. We combined old and vintage furniture with well-produced contemporary design, on the basis that most people lived with a jumbled mixture of old, inherited and newly purchased items and not the museum lifestyle that antique shops tended to suggest.” Take a peek in-store, see the pictures below …
They have certainly carved out a nice niche for themselves and as a result have expanded the business. Matthew says – “hopefully it’s not conceited to suggest that we were probably the first company in London to mix modern and vintage and about 10 years ago, developed what were essentially Christmas offerings of vintage toys into a shop next door which we purchased and extended and which specialised in what you might consider to be traditional toys, infused with an element of fun, education and nostalgia. We also built a new workshop and incorporated our restoration business into the shop site.”
Matthew says the best thing about owning a shop is the diverse, often strange and unusual customer base. They ensure this diverse clientele is catered for – “our customer base has grown with us as our own tastes have changed and we genuinely have a following from the very youngest of children, through to young adults building their new homes and all the way to an older, established generation who appreciate the quality of pieces made in times gone by and who react with fondness to the nostalgic element of the goods on offer. We are always sure to have something unusual and interesting to fit pretty much any requirement. We strive not to stock the stuff that everyone else does and you can pick up everywhere – and we go to great pains to try to ensure that when you visit us, you really feel as though you’ve not seen it all before. There is of course, sometimes an overlap of some contemporary item or other with another supplier, but when that happens, you can be certain that we’ll be more competitively priced – and if we’re not, we’ll price match.”
They certainly go to the ends of the earth to keep their customers content and this is summed up by their company motto “there is hardly anything in the world that someone cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper – and people who consider price alone are this man’s lawful prey – Ruskin.”
Make sure you pop in for a browse next time you’re in Islington; you can find them at 121-122 Upper Street, London N1 1QP. Do have a look out in the back garden and down in the basement so you don’t miss anything. Nearest tube stations are Angel / Highbury & Islington. They are open from 10-6 Monday to Saturday and 11-5 on Sundays. You can also buy from the website www.afternoah.com. Credits: text by Homegirl London, images courtesy of After Noah, special thanks to Matthew Crawford.