Bordered by picture-perfect Palm Beach and seriously sexy Miami, the coastal city of Fort Lauderdale has long served predominantly as a pit-stop destination. Recently, however, thanks to a fresh breed of creatives setting up shop, the place has undergone something of a renaissance. With independent galleries, boho beach clubs, design-driven hotels and edgy art studios cropping up along its sun-kissed coastline, this is fast becoming a go-to destination for switched-on, sun-seeking Americans and savvy international travellers alike.
Enter, Sarah Glass - the woman behind the city's thriving pottery studio Sarah Glass Ceramics and the chair of the Fort Lauderdale Public Art Placement and Advisory Board. Specialising in porcelain, stoneware, dinnerware and decor, Sarah uses her downtime to recharge and seek inspiration in the city's many art hubs. We caught up with her to get the inside scoop on the coolest brunch spots, the best places to dance the night away and the local artisans and crafters that are making waves.
Cool craft stores and beautiful bistros: in conversation with Sarah Glass
Sarah Glass crafting, left, and a pottery wheel in action.
Tell us the backstory of Sarah Glass Ceramics.
I started the brand in 2016. Pottery was a hobby of mine and something that I liked to indulge in when I worked in finance. It wasn't until I started to share snapshots on social media that I found an audience of people with an appetite to try the craft themselves. From there, I set up a listing for pottery classes in South Florida using the Meetup app - a platform that connects communities and allows exposure for startup brands.
Having started out in one incredibly small studio, with just a single wheel in the kitchen, it has taken years of generosity from mentors and empowering women to get us where we are today: an airy studio with nine wheels. It's been a long and, at times, challenging journey that has required commitment and dedication, but patience and resilience has taken us to where we are now.
What do you and your students get out of your classes?
The dream was to create a studio that I would enjoy going to, but being able to teach people has allowed pottery to become my career. It brings me so much joy to meet different people from all over the world; hearing their stories and being able to provide them with local recommendations is so rewarding. My classes allow students to have a deeper appreciation and understanding of all that goes into ceramics. It has brought so much positivity into my life and I'm so grateful to be in a position where I can share that with others.
What sets you apart from other ceramics studios?
Without sounding clichéd, it is genuinely the vibes. People who visit the studio are often seeking a place where they can be creative and socialise with like-minded individuals.
Pottery for me is a practice of mindfulness and meditation. And I love that I'm able to share my enthusiasm for design with others. Our pottery studio is located in a beautiful, Spanish-influenced building overlooking the heart of downtown - it's one of Fort Lauderdale's oldest buildings, which feels incredibly special.
Inside Sarah Glass Ceramics studio, left, and a clay pot.
Describe Fort Lauderdale's vibe.
Fort Lauderdale is laid-back, beachy and eclectic. It's a progressive city that has a heart that beats for community and art.
When's the best time to visit?
Fort Lauderdale is exceptionally stunning in the winter, when the air is fresher and there's a slower pace, but you can still go and sit on a white-sand beach and essentially do everything you would in the summertime. It's such a blessing to host events and workshops year-round.
Where should we stay?
The Dalmar. There are several excellent in-house restaurants and a chic rooftop pool to splash around in. The rooms are a haven for interior design lovers, with abstract prints, art deco furnishings and floor-to-ceiling windows offering sweeping skyline views.
Where should we head for breakfast?
Head to DUNE by Laurent Tourondel. The sea-facing restaurant is known for its brunch offering - think steak and eggs meets tuna, salmon and hamachi poke bowls. If the blue crab benedict is on the menu, order it - and wash it down with a bloody mary. Party people should visit on the weekend, when local DJs spin classic tracks.
What about a long, lazy lunch?
The husband-and-wife-owned Magnolia Caffee is an unassuming French bistro just a few blocks away from our pottery store. The interiors are antique, vintage or handmade and all items are purchasable - yep, seriously. It's borderline impossible to not spend an entire afternoon here.
Fort Lauderdale beach, left, and a cocktail bar.
And for an evening drink…
What is the nightlife scene like?
Which galleries should we check out?
The NSU Art Museum is a must-see. It's currently got a Keith Haring exhibition on, which includes drawings and an iconic print series. The permanent collection is spectacular, too. You can also find my pottery for sale in the gift boutique.
If you fancy venturing a little further afield, grab the new high-speed train, the Brightline, to the Norton Museum of Art.
Do you have a favourite museum?
It's got to be the Newfields Museum, in Indianapolis. You could easily spend an entire day there and only just scratch the surface of all that it has to offer. The art collection is phenomenal and there's an enormous garden lined with overgrown apple trees where you can have a picnic.
Any must-visit boutiques or craft stores we should know about?
The Japanese Gardens at the Morikami Museum, left, and a craft boutique.
Any other artisans or crafters doing interesting things in Fort Lauderdale?
You'll spot artist Danny Doya's monumental murals dotted around the downtown area, and the Flagler Village neighbourhood is brimming with street art. Cara Eve Designs is a great local business that transforms wasted flowers from weddings and special events into gorgeous utilitarian pieces such as bookends and perfume trays.
Anything a drive away that's worth a visit?
Miami Beach and Palm Beach. The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens is well worth the drive, too.
Something to bring back as a souvenir?
Handcrafted art, of course! And a tan.
sarahglassceramics.com | @sarahglass_ceramics