Saint-Gobain's Future Sensations was paraded through the internet as one of the season's must-see attractions. With the French company's North American headquarters in Center City, Philadelphia is the only U.S. stop on its worldwide tour. That in itself was enough to make the blogosphere wet with glee. "Suck it, New York!"
But as Inga Saffron was quick to point out, the exhibition is little more than a thinly veiled promotion. The materials corporation used four unique pavilions to showcase their products, and a fifth for a sale's pitch. There's nothing inherently wrong with that. After all, that's exactly what anything dubbed an "exhibition" is. We pay a pretty penny to see the Auto Show and the Flower Show, and we know we're walking right into a commercial.
Saint-Gobain didn't set us up for a promotion, though. Much like Frank Gehry's "exhibit" at the Pennsylvania Museum of Art, we went in expecting to experience pavilions dedicated to history and the arts, and what we got was a lesson in the materials Saint-Gobain offers. We got Saint-Gobain's history.
Nonetheless, it's a dazzling spectacle to see. The lines have died down since opening day and they're worth a look. Even if some of the pavilions leave you wondering what the point is, they pods are uniquely designed creations that are, at the very least, pretty cool.