An innovative new start up is bringing smiles to the faces of commuters in Mumbai

Mumbai’s favourite mode of transport was given a makeover recently thanks to the new Taxi Fabric project. This fun social enterprise raised funds on Kickstarter to buy fabric, which they could use to decorate taxis. The founders Sanket Avlani, Mahak Malik, Gordon, and Girish Narayandass then invited artists throughout India to create designs that could be placed on fabric. The only proviso was that each artist had to tell a story about the city through their design. They have decorated 27 taxis so far and are now looking to give more of these iconic Mumbai cars a makeover.

“The taxi drivers love the designs mostly because of the reaction of their passengers – some tip them more and some people will even choose to spend more time on their journey just to have more time looking at the designs. That’s like gold-dust to a taxi-driver,” said the Taxi Fabric team.

“We’ve just refitted another auto-rickshaw with a Taxi Fabric design and the driver commented that it made him feel like he had just bought a new rickshaw. There’s a lot of power in giving someone’s livelihood a new lease of life in that way.”

Five of the artists reveal the inspiration behind their Taxi Fabric designs…

City As Objects by Sameer Kulavoor

City As Objects by Sameer Kulavoor

Kulavoor says that these objects symbolize the resilience of the people of Mumbai: “My design compares the city with objects of daily use. It’s a tribute to the resilience of the people of Bombay. If one can make it here, he or she can make it anywhere in the world!”

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Chowpatty by Sweta Malhotra

“My theme for Taxi Fabric was ‘Chowpatty’, inspired by Juhu Beach. I wanted to bring that vibe, the colours and the chaos onto the canvas,” explained Malhotra. “It was inspired by my time spent there as a child, so it was mostly nostalgic.

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A Century of Revolt by Kunel Gaur

Speaking of his design, Kunel says, “My original idea was to do a fresco-inspired piece around the Indian independence. I admire the courage and strength to [fight] for freedom for over 100 years. The taxi driver, Mr Mohammed Arif told me about his uncle who was himself a freedom fighter. At times when the artwork was being fitted to his taxi, he would stare at it in silence.”

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Monad by Samia Arif

Pakistani artist Samia Arif wanted to use her design to bring the neigbouring countries of India and Pakistan closer together: “I have picked up on hand gestures and geometric patterns common or unique to both cultures and religions such as a dua or namaste and amalgamated them into a visual collage around a sea scape. Design can help people understand and communicate with each other better, and feelings and thoughts can be conveyed in an aesthetically pleasing manner.”

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You and I by Pranita Kocharekar

Kochareker wanted to capture the pace of this hectic city in her design: “Everyone from a businessman to a vegetable vendor is busy living their dream, everything happens in fast forward here. I wanted to capture [it].” And the passengers are loving the end result said taxi driver Irfan: “People are enjoying the ride more. They ask about Pranita and the project. They take photos. This one guy got so excited, he insisted on speaking to Pranita to thank her for the experience.”

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