Mumbai (formerly called Bombay) is the most populous city in India, as well as a thriving hub of commerce and trade, especially in exports of fabrics and textile products. A team of four young Indian designers determined to show off the talent, fabric expertise and storytelling skills available locally pioneered a new way to startle people into discovering an emerging aesthetic in Mumbai. The group launched Taxi Fabric, designing and fitting fabric interiors in five taxis currently picking up fares in Mumbai.
Taxis are the most convenient form of transport in Mumbai, and drivers take special care to make their vehicles stand out in the crowd. However, the fabrics in the taxi interiors are often “dull and forgettable,” according to the Taxi Fabric team. The project began by connecting designers with taxi drivers. With their own funds, Sanket Aviani, Mahak Malik, Nathalie Gordon and Girish Narayandass refurbished the first five taxis. The steps included buying fabric, sampling, printing, stitching and fitting the taxi interiors, as well as paying drivers for taking taxis off the road for a few days. Each taxi featuring the wild and colorful fabric seats and ceilings has an identity label that tells passengers the name of the designer, the story behind the design and how to connect with the artist for collaborations or commissions.
The Taxi Fabric team launched a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised enough money for 25 more refurbished taxis. The project has “the power to turn design… into what the rest of the world see(s) as a vital ingredient in modern commerce and thinking,” writes the Taxi Fabric team. By connecting fabric design and transportation, the taxis connect designers with hundreds of passengers and potential customers, one fare at a time.