Mumbai’s 55,000 taxis are one of the city’s most iconic elements of culture, catering to the 21 million population. But while the outside of the cars are pristine and polished — due to drivers wishing to attract riders in a competitive market — the insides are often plain, dusty and dirty. Design, as a profession or a subject at college, is not widely recognized in India, especially to the older generations. Now, a project called Taxi Fabric wants to utilize these frequently used spaces as a platform for India’s promising illustrators, artists and designers, in an attempt to portray the power and pleasure of good design, and prove that it is a valuable and impactful skill.
Taxi Fabric will coordinate the transformation of 25 of Mumbai’s working taxis using fabrics created by Indian designers. Having funded the first five cars themselves, the Taxi Fabric team are now seeking financial support through a Kickstarter campaign, which will enable them to finance the rest of the project. Each taxi is taken off the road for a single day and reupholstered with the commissioned fabrics, which cover every inch of the interior, transforming the taxi into a unique and colorful space. The initial stage of the project has been very successful, with drivers finding that their customers are more engaged and social as a result of the fabrics, and three out of the five initial designers have received enquiries from riders who have seen their work.
Each taxi will be kitted out for 4-5 months, so every Taxi Fabric design is likely to be seen by upwards of 4,000 members of the public. Are there other public spaces which could be transformed in this way, and provide platforms for emerging artists?