Taxi Fabric: Creating A Unique Space For Designers To Showcase Their Talent

Taxi Fabric has been refurbishing Mumbai’s taxis since 2013, aiming to provide artists with a very unconventional but much needed platform to showcase their prowess.

This spectacular project has wowed us for a while now and we recently had the opportunity to learn more about the project from the team behind this very successful campaign.


In 2013, Sanket Avlani, Mahak Malik, Nathalie Gordon & Girish Narayandass, the core team behind Taxi Fabric, launched their first taxi and have been going strong ever since.

Working relentlessly to bring the spotlight to design as a powerful medium of communication, they’ve transformed taxis into mobile narratives.

WHAT IS THE TAXI FABRIC PROJECT?

The Taxi Fabric project was born as a solution to two very pressing problems the founders identified. The taxis in Mumbai are an iconic piece of culture, they are the most convenient form of transport, yet they offer little in terms of design or differentiation.

“The designs that cover the taxi seats are often dull and forgettable. And with the design talent Mumbai has to offer, this shouldn’t be the case”, said the founders.

Additionally, the team at Taxi Fabric discovered the lack of avenues for designers to showcase their work, besides a general lack of knowledge about design. “Design, as a profession or even simply something studied at school, is unfortunately not widely recognized in India”, Taxi Fabric’s founders explained in a press release about the project. “Older generations don’t understand it, or recognize it as a proper profession or something worth studying. They don’t know it can create an impact. And with so few spaces for young people to show off their skills, it’s hard to change that perception.”

It was not long before the team began to connect designers with taxi drivers, turning seat covers into canvasses for young Indian designers to show off their design talent and storytelling skills. Each taxi is fitted with an identity label which tells anyone who rides in the taxi, the designer behind the Taxi Fabric, the story of the design and also how to get in contact with them for collaborations or commissions.

 

THE KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN

A few months ago, Taxi Fabric ran a very successful Kickstarter campaign to fund future projects. They raised a little over £11,000 ($17,200), surpassing their goal of £8000.

“There are no words for how grateful we are and there are no words for how excited we are for the next 5 months of this project. We’ve got 30 Taxi Fabrics to make by Christmas- that’s 30 young Indian designers, who now have the opportunity to to show off their skills and story-telling abilities on this unique platform”, said the founders, confirming the success of the campaign.

THE DECKED UP TAXIS

Taxi Fabric wishes to tell the story of Mumbai. Till date they have launched 17 taxi fabrics, with subjects ranging from Indian Freedom-Fighters to childhood memories on Juhu Chowpatty beach to those rare green spaces, bursting with flora and fauna, hidden throughout the city.

The taxi drivers, with their intimate knowledge of Mumbai, in collaboration with the designers, each with their unique interpretation of Mumbai, unfold an enchanting tapestry that captures the essence of the city they hold in such high regard.

The founders put a lot of emphasis on creating a rapport between the designer and taxi driver. “We try and get each designer to speak with the driver of the taxi they are designing for- it’s important that they develop a relationship and understand each-other as one can’t tell the story of the other if they don’t know one-another.”

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“‘A Century of Revolt” by Kunel Gaur. He describes the driver’s reaction as they were installing the fabric, “the Taxi Driver, Mr. Mohammed Arif told me about his uncle who was himself a freedom fighter. At most times when the artwork was being fitted to his taxi, he would stare at it in silence.”(Taxi Fabric)
Samya_Taxi-17
“Monad” by Samya Arif. “India and Pakistan,Separated at birth, siblings who grew up and forgot how much they loved each other.” (Taxi Fabric)
TaxiFabric_FromaTaxiWindowbyLokeshKarekar_2
“From A Taxi Window” by Lokesh Karekar. “The Fiat Padmini Premier’s iconic quality of the eighties was one of the inspirations for the style of illustration.”(Taxi Fabric)
TaxiFabric_YouandIbyPranitaKocharekar_1
“You & I” by Pranita Kocharekar. “Everyone from a businessman to a vegetable vendor is busy living their dream, everything happens in fast forward here,” she explained.(Taxi Fabric)

Head over to the Taxi Fabric website for all 17 taxi fabrics and interviews with their respective designers.

GETTING INVOLVED WITH TAXI FABRIC

Taxi Fabric has gathered a lot of attention, with the founders receiving unanimous praise from all over the world. “We have been so touched by the huge outcry of support and the amazing people coming forward who want to either be part of the project, or collaborate or design their own Taxi Fabric.”

They have now narrowed down the hundreds of submissions they’ve received and have shortlisted 30 designers who they will be working with. The next set of applications is due in January.

If you’d like to get involved, Taxi Fabric is  still looking at portfolios which can be sent to taxifabric@gmail.com

To know more about Taxi Fabric, check out the links below.
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