Mumbai’s Kaali Peeli taxis have inhabited its busy roads for decades and more. And today this convenient mode of public transport is witnessing a colorful, magical makeover all thanks to Sanket Avlani has his fantastic initiative- Taxi Fabric.
Sanket and his team of immensely talented graphic designers are using the interiors of local taxis as their canvas. Unconventional and quirky designs that often represent the city’s vibrant culture now adorn the seats of your taxi. Each time you ride on a Taxi Fabric cab you are instantly transported to a fantasy land of Bollywood, dabba-wallahs, languages and more.
Who would have thought that the once tattered, boring seats could be a potential platform to interact with art and design? Taxi Fabric is a revolution of sorts which will only grow in times to come. Imagine if five years down the line all public transport were to be carriers of art, ideas and design. And of course, travelers!
How its done
Inspired by his childhood memories of travelling in a taxi, Sanket came up with this genius of an idea to make the world a beautiful place, one kaali-peeli at a time.
The process is fairly simple and begins with a conversation between the designer and taxi driver. This conversation then becomes the main brief the designers follow to create design that are then printed on upholstery and stitched onto the seats. Sanket describes the taxi fabric procedure “from being a simple makeover to becoming something more contextual”
Workshops and Training
Most recently, Taxi Fabric conducted a two-day workshop wherein 24 students were selected and divided into three groups of eight to create a brand new design for Taxi Fabric. Explaining the workshop module Sanket adds, “We haven’t been able to interact with young designers who have been most excited about this project. So we came up with this format where a bunch of people could design one taxi, help each other out and work as a team.” At the end of the workshop, one selected student got to create her own Taxi Fabric. They also held panel discussions and arranged for a visit to the unit where Taxi Fabrics are fitted onto the taxis.
Road to the Future
What began with taxis of Mumbai has quickly spread to auto rickshaws in Delhi. Currently, 36 Taxi Fabrics have been launched by the team and they plan to launch many more through collaborations funding from corporates and brands.
Textile Design is their upcoming venture where they plan to use the designs created for their taxis to develop textiles. Sanket further elaborates, “We will be selling fabric and products using designs that we’ve created. Essentially the main idea of things that are developed locally or inspired by the city will be available for people to use in their homes.”
Even Coldplay couldn’t resist but get into one of their taxis in their video for Hymn for the Weekend. The design was by Samia Arif (a Pakistani artist) and displayed the similarities between India and Pakistan’s culture. Sanket shared that it happened through a production house and “Coldplay definitely put us out on the global map.”
Join the Ride
If the designer in you is excited by this fun concept, you may drop in your portfolio and design ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org. If they find it cool enough, they will contact you.
If you are ready to pay a one off fee and make your Taxi Fabric happen, the process of converting your design from blueprint to a Taxi Fabric will take around 4 days after they receive your final design.