Mumbai Taxis Just Became the Coolest Things in Town!
Taxi designed by Tasneem Amiruddin. Titled ‘Jungle Book’. (<a href="http://www.taxifabric.org/tasneemamiruddin">Photo: taxifabric.org</a>)
Taxi designed by Tasneem Amiruddin. Titled ‘Jungle Book’. (Photo: taxifabric.org)

Mumbai Taxis Just Became the Coolest Things in Town!

Remember that awkward moment when you walked into a party and bumped into a friend, who’s wearing the exact same thing as you? Weird, huh. Even though the same brands make you shriek with joy, and you can’t get over how hot your respective Christian Louboutins are, but actually turning up in the exact same shoes or outfits in public, is by far the most uncool thing that could happen, right?

Well, that’s the bane of mass production. It strips the character and individuality off things, making them run of the mill in no time. What’s the dullest thing you can think of? I thought long and hard and came up with this- Taxi seat covers! Dull, drab, smelly and they ALL look the same.

Taxi designed by Gaurav Ogale Titled ‘Cutting’. (<a href="http://www.taxifabric.org/gauravogale">Photo: taxifabric.org</a>)
Taxi designed by Gaurav Ogale Titled ‘Cutting’. (Photo: taxifabric.org)

But to my surprise, Mumbai’s kaali peeli taxis are getting a hip makeover. A bunch of spunky designers are helping taxi drivers in the city, in doing away with their icky upholstery, by turning the seats in their vehicles into a canvas of sorts. Welcome to the Taxi Fabric Project!

The project is the brainchild of a self taught designer, Sanket Avlani. His partners in crime are three young, creative minds- Mahak Malik, Nathalie Gordon and Girish Narayandass. So far, this self funded initiative has spruced up 5 taxis in Mumbai.

Taxi designed by Lokesh Karekar. Titled ‘From a Taxi Window’. (Photo: <a href="http://www.taxifabric.org/lokeshkarekar">taxifabric.org</a>)
Taxi designed by Lokesh Karekar. Titled ‘From a Taxi Window’. (Photo: taxifabric.org)

The perspective of the taxi driver is important for this creative process. Sanket revealed that casual conversations with the drivers about what makes them smile, and how they perceive the city, hints at common motifs like chai, dabbawallas, birds, etc. which are then incorporated into the designs.

This joyous exercise is not a cheap one. So the designer gang has turned to crowdfunding. Interestingly enough, they’ve managed to collect about Rs 8 Lac, in less than a month! And they’re still going strong. Check out this unique Kickstarter campaign here. The more they collect, the funkier our cabs in Mumbai get!

The kaali peeli taxis in Mumbai are not just a convenient form of transportation, but are also iconic in themselves. So when Sanket noticed that these taxis were fitted with fabrics carrying boring, forgettable designs, he saw it as a canvas that was being wasted. We see these fabrics as a platform for young designers to showcase their skills. Through their designs they can tell stories inspired by Mumbai and communicate with thousands of commuters every day. For us, Taxi Fabric is a way to show the impact that great design can have on everything around us.
– Girish Narayandass, Taxi Fabric Project

Check out their cool campaign video below-

Sanket Avlani’s design titled ‘Number Game’. (Photo:<a href="http://www.taxifabric.org/sanketavlani"> taxifabric.org</a>)
Sanket Avlani’s design titled ‘Number Game’. (Photo: taxifabric.org)

The durability of these designs is a bit of a question mark at the moment, given the pollution levels of the city. Mumbai traffic can turn pretty into filthy in just a few months. But the taxi drivers give them much love and care.

When you give something good to someone, they are more sensitive about maintaining it. It’s only going to work if people support this project. It cannot survive without funding. It’s a design project and to make it sustainable, there has to be a sense of community backing it
– Sanket Avlani, Taxi Fabric Project

Pranita Kocharekar’s design, titled ‘You &amp; I’. (Photo: <a href="http://www.taxifabric.org/pranitakocharekar">taxifabric.org</a>)
Pranita Kocharekar’s design, titled ‘You & I’. (Photo: taxifabric.org)

Nasimuddin beams wide pride and joy when his curiously amused passengers enquire about his funky seats. 

Log poochtey rehte hain, yeh kisne kiya? Bahut pasand aata hai. Mere hisaab se zyada savari bhi mil rahi hai.
– Nasimuddin, Taxi Driver

Till we have more of these fab cabs in town, try all you can to spot one and hop right into it! And of course, you can contribute to the Taxi Fabric Project too!

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