People spotlight

Bringing passion to her work: Get to know Aven Morken

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At Kasian, we are proud of the diverse skills and deep sector experience that our various team members bring to our projects and overall community. It is this diversity that empowers us to create a deeper connection between people and place, in turn transforming not only landscapes and buildings, but communities.


Our employee Spotlights serve to introduce some of our high impact and passionate team members, highlight their unique skills, and share their reflections on how design trends are evolving in our changing times.

Spotlight: Aven Morken, Interior Designer

“What sets an interior design project apart is the story. Having that cornerstone concept is what drives the project and will make the decisions for you if it is strong enough.” 


Aven Morken comes from a long lineage of artists. When she came across an interior designer at a career fair in grade five, she knew that interior design was the ideal path for her. So began her pursuit of an interdisciplinary arts career.


Since graduating from Mount Royal University with a Bachelor of Applied Interior Design, she has balanced her artistic pursuits with her interior design work, finding the two creative outlets to be incredibly complementary.


In addition to being a valued member of our interior design team, Aven creates commissioned art pieces through her studio, Gifted Goods, and was recently shortlisted for the Dentons Purple Art Contest. Aven’s piece, Neon Oil, explores the limits of colour using both purple and yellow tones to highlight contrasting colours. Neon Oil has been recently displayed at the Art Gallery of Alberta, a notable milestone for a budding artist.


Aven shares some insights on her design journey.

Question & Answer

Q: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

AM: There are two things that most inspire me. Fittingly, the first is architecture, which comes naturally as an interior designer. The architectural form has always intrigued me. Secondly, I draw a lot of inspiration from light and shadow. Particularly how light and shadows dovetail into folds, and fabrics, wrinkles, and petals – those types of natural undulating forms.


Q: How does your artistic background influence your approach to interior design?

AM: Creativity is paramount to interior design, being able to create concepts that are unique, and that have a story. What really makes a space sing, is having that backstory, that concept, that precedent – this allows us to really connect with our client. Creativity also plays into problem solving and can be a tremendous asset to thinking outside of the box.


Q: What is the hallmark of great design?

AM: Speaking to the end users is so critical to truly understanding the programming of the space. But what really sets a project apart is the story. Having that cornerstone concept is what drives the project and it will honestly make the decisions for you if you have a strong enough concept.


Q: What is a Kasian project that best stands out for you from a design perspective?

AM: I was the project manager and lead interior designer on a Federal Government project tenant improvement project in Edmonton. The Muttart botanical gardens served as the cornerstone inspiration for this project, so we drew on that in some truly innovative and creative ways. We added wheat imagery on the demountable walls as a glazing, film design. We also used wheat designs to break up the monotony of the office spaces. In the meeting rooms, we incorporated feature lighting with a moss insert. All these plant references tied really nicely back to the end users and their career paths in the food, animal, and plant inspection field. I thought it was an interesting way to bring their careers alive within the space.


Bringing a design vision to life starts with a ‘story’ to help guide the design process throughout a construction project. The story for this project was conceptualized when I reflected upon the legacy and importance that the users of the space (the inspectors) have to Edmonton, and Canada as a greater whole. This story of the inspectors’ importance naturally created a symbolic link that the interior design story should relate to their career. The plants, foods, and animals that would be inspected were symbolized into motifs and biophilic-related emblems. These motifs were interpreted into graphic elements in the glazing film design; feature light fixtures, flooring materials, and even in the organic shape of the worksurface desks.


Q: What do you love most about the work you do?

AM: Interior design means so much to me, it’s a creative outlet, it leaves a lasting imprint. My work leaves an enduring impact on the users of the space that I’m creating, in a very physical way. That is one of the more unique aspects of interior design and architecture is that we’re creating places and spaces that stand the test of time, and when my career is over, they will still be there.


Q: What do you like most about working at Kasian?

AM: The calibre of talent at Kasian is remarkable. As an interior designer, being able to work with architects in-house is incredible. I’m working alongside the best of the best.


Q: Can you tell us about Neon Oil, the piece you submitted for the Dentons Purple Art Contest?

AM: My parents live in Osoyoos (a town in British Columbia) and I was visiting them around the holidays. It was an 11 hour drive from Edmonton, and I had driven through the nearby town of Oliver around midnight and noticed this theatre. I saw that it had some neon lights, but that the lights weren’t lit. I came back a couple of days later at around 5:00 am, because I wanted to get a photo of it at dawn. Again, the lights weren’t lit, so I ended up sticking around until the owners arrived and asked if they wouldn’t mind turning on the lights for me. I came back the next morning and shot some photos, including the one on which I based my painting. I felt it captured the COVID-based hauntingly empty scene that we were becoming accustomed to at the time. With the dawn setting, I felt it spoke to the hope for the future that we were all looking for.


Q: Do you have a favourite standout piece of art that you have created?

AM: I did this oil painting of an old man. That piece was the first time I realized that I could paint to a certain calibre. It was a turning point in my own competence as an artist, the way I was able to hone in on my colour theory. It really brings a painting to life when you understand how to use colour.


Q: What is an interesting project that you have worked on?

AM: Prior to joining Kasian, a project I worked on was awarded a Masi award. The project was a bus barn for the City of Airdrie’s public transit department. We approached it from the perspective of the surrounding prairie landscape. That landscape concept really drove the architectural and design details – swaying wheat in the breeze, the light changing over wheat fields. There were some clerestory windows up at the ceiling plane that would get lovely lighting that would change throughout the day. I added gold curtains in a curvilinear snake shape and when the light hit them, these contours would change and the light cast was a golden colour that matched the hue of wheat. It conceptualized the surrounding area very nicely. 


Q: Outside of work and art, how do you like to spend your free time?
AM: I love the outdoors. My parents took me on regular hikes as a child. My name, Aven, is actually the name of a mountain flower that you’d find in the mountains near Jasper. My family does a recurring 10-day canoe trip in BC every few years, and it’s a wonderful time, very remote. I love snowboarding as well.


Aven Morken has worked on the following projects:

Federal Government

Rice Howard Way Place Podium Redevelopment

Sir Frederick W. Haultain Building Feasibility Study

David Thompson Design Build Schools


At Kasian, we thrive in a culture of curiosity. Our clients are visionaries, passionate and courageous ― together we achieve results that make a difference to entire communities.  


At the heart of what we do are our people.  


If you enjoy collaborating in a vibrant and inspiring workplace and are looking for the next step in your career, we’d love to hear from you. 


Aven Morken's Neon Oil painting at The Art Gallery of Alberta

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