Meet FDK Florals

Fernando Kabigting is a queer, first-generation Filipino immigrant, who was raised in California, before making his way to New York. FDK Florals is Fernando’s artistic expression that stems from his deep desire to cultivate serene imperfection. Drawing inspiration from his Filipino heritage and incorporating traditional materials, blooms, and basketry techniques, his designs reflect time, space, shape, and seasonality.

We sat down with our friend to learn more about his approach to floral design, the root of his inspiration, and what it means be a Filipino-American in the floral space.

How did you get started in floral design?
I started FDK Florals after a career in advertising and fashion accessories/handbag design. I was drawn to floral design as a form of artistic expression and found that it allowed me to channel my creativity and passion for beauty in new and exciting ways. With my corporate background in design, I was able to leverage my creative brand building experience and bring a new conversation around floral with several fashion brands in New York, establishing FDK Florals as a provider of artful floral arrangements.

Where do you draw inspiration from?
During my first semester of art school, a professor offered some words of wisdom that as a designer the best thing you could do was to live multiple lives to the fullest. Read, research and also immerse yourself with travel, expose yourself to as many different things and then bring those insights to the table and create for yourself or others.

How do you approach your work?
My approach is fairly casual. It starts with a conversation as my team and I design floral moments that are tailored to suit specific times, places, and personalities. We're mindful of the context in which the end result will be seen and create compositions that are beautiful and meaningful. In this way, our floral arrangements become not just decorative elements, but stories in themselves. The process also involves a deep understanding of all materials and an ongoing exercise in a 360 approach that extends from the selection of stems, sourced as locally as possible when available to elements used in part with the mechanics of our installations, that most times are never seen but have a softer hand in nature and have possibility to be reused or repurposed and avoid being additional mass in our landfills.

What is your favorite flower and why?
This shifts based on the growing season. One of my first loves has to be the sampaguita, which just happens to be the national flower of the Philippines and often used in religious and cultural events. My fondness of the flower is linked to how it instantly brings to mind my grandparents' farm in Arayat, Pampanga, where shrubs lined the entry gate. I remember being struck by the flower's petal structure and signature sweet scent. And the scent memory of those flowers is so special that I've grown to not favor sweet floral varieties but still consider the sampaguita one of my favs.

How has your Filipino heritage influenced FDK Florals?
Filipinos have a love of life and my work is colored with that same approach. Having been raised in a large immediate and extended Filipino family, our heritage has played a significant role in all that I've done and continue to do. Our strong emphasis on family, community, and celebration in Filipino culture are folded into FDK Floral's approach to creating personal, meaningful designs for clients' events and milestones. There's an attention to detail and craftsmanship evident in Filipino handiwork continually provides a rich cultural context and is a source that deepens my works aesthetic sensibility.

What does it mean to you to be queer and first generation Filipino-American in the floral space?
Being a proudly queer and first generation Filipino-American has created the possibility for me to reflect and celebrate the beauty and diversity of the Filipino culture, such as incorporating traditional Filipino materials and blooms or using Filipino basketry techniques. It also opens up the possibility to assist in highlighting the work of other queer and/or FilAm's, as well as creating space and mentoring young designers.

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