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by Bronwen Duncan

A lectern is more than just a place to stand when delivering a lecture. As well as practical, it should be beautiful, designed to complement both the speaker and room it sits in.

When Camosun needed new lecterns (also known as podia), David Sovka, Associate Director College & Community Relations, knew who to approach: “It made sense to showcase the talents of our students and faculty in Camosun’s Fine Furniture program.”

The contest

The rules were simple. Each of the eighteen Fine Furniture program students were asked to present a potential lectern design for one of Camosun’s most-used and most beautiful lecture areas—either the Gibson auditorium in Lansdowne campus’s historic Young building, or the newly-built Pacific Institute for Sports Excellence on the Interurban campus. The materials were to be locally available and budget was not a consideration. Students needed to address both artistic requirements of the designated space as well as practical requirements such as accommodations for audiovisual technology.

“This was a real-life version of a typical business exercise found in the program. To practice the marketing experience, students present their designs to each other six or seven times through the year,” says Ken Guenter, instructor of the Fine Furniture program. However, in this exercise, winning submissions, judged by a panel of Camosun staff to best reflect a face of Camosun, would then become a solid piece of Camosun history.

The real-life format proved successful three years ago, where the Fine Furniture program students designed dynamic tables that were later built for the Victoria Airport Authority.

The winners

Eighteen students presented an incredible array of potential lectern designs to the panel.

“The students were amazing. They each had an excited pride in what they had done – it really mattered to them. I wish we could have built all of The Lectern in Gibson Auditoriumthem,” says Sovka.

Twenty percent of the students chose to work with the ornate architecture of the Gibson auditorium. In choosing design elements for his winning submission, Frank Dodgshon considered the auditorium’s curved archways, high ceilings, moldings, and decorative pillars, typical of the eclectic Beaux Arts-style. However, needing further inspiration, he also visited the Victoria’s Legislature buildings. Wandering about the legislative assembly with his camera, he was stopped by a security guard. His explanation secured a private tour of architectural highlights, enabling Frank to photograph individual features of the Neo-Baroque architecture such as the square decorative blocks and stained glass. Built of American White Oak, the design of the resulting lectern reflects the elaborate ambiance of Gibson Hall with its tall stance, traditional materials, and a “hodge podge” of different architectural details taken from classical and Victorian influences. It also accommodates modern requirements such as wiring for microphone and lighting as well as a recess for a laptop computer.

The Lectern at the Interurban Campus



The majority of the students chose to present a design made to harmonize with the newly constructed Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence (PISE) building at Camosun’s Interurban campus. The winning submission by Jacquie Martineau used a sleek style with stainless steel cables and curved lines that reflect strength, flexibility and endurance celebrated within the PISE walls. Light-coloured bamboo sheets cover the top and bottom sections, with strong taupe-coloured grain lines matching the rich grayish-brown of the central column’s African Wengé wood. This contemporary design also houses wiring for audiovisual equipment and a recess for a laptop computer.

Cam Russell, Chair of Architectural Trades at Camosun, and Guenter did the lion’s share of building the lecterns as the winning students had by then graduated the program.


Where art meets practicality—Camosun’s Fine Furniture program

The Fine Furniture program at Camosun attracts all ages, all professional backgrounds and about a third of the participants are women. It is a ten-month program with the 18-student maximum offering room for individual attention and a variety of interesting projects.

“The program draws from both the trades and the arts,” says Guenter. “Boat builders love our graduates because our students know how to deal with angles and curves.”

Graduates have the knowledge and skills necessary for entry into the furniture design, construction or finishing/refinishing industries and credit for Level I of the Joinery apprenticeship. Supplemented by study of business and presentation concepts, graduates are ready to market their future designs.

Interested in Camosun’s Fine Furniture program?

More information on Camosun’s Fine Furniture program. If you'd like to learn more about the Fine Furniture program contact Cam Russell,, 250–370–3803.

Last updated: January 21, 2009 2:00 pm

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