Mumbai is the largest city in India, with a population of over 16 million. Getting people to know your designs and appreciating it is extremely hard, if not impossible. The design profession in India is not considered as an important, or widely recognized occupation, which makes it harder to stand out. Choosing to be a designer or illustrator is not one of those safe professions that gets you a job after finishing your education. But that is slowly changing, thanks to an amazing inspirational project called Taxi Fabric.
Taxis in India are iconic pieces of culture, and they supply one of the best and most comfortable transportation method. Mumbai has a lot of taxis, and every taxi driver wants their taxi to stand out, so that people will choose his taxi for the ride. The drivers are going out of their way to pimp their ride, and make it special. The Taxi Fabric project is connecting designers with taxi drivers, in order to customize the interior cover seats of taxis in Mumbai.
The idea behind the project is that a designer creates a unique design, and uses the inner taxi covers as his canvas. The collaboration between the driver and designer is creating a space for designers to show off their ideas and talent, through the medium of Taxi Fabric. Once a design is ready, the taxi is fitted within a couple of days, and its passengers get to enjoy the ride from that point on. Each taxi is marked with an identifying label, which tells anyone who rides in the taxi, the designer behind the Taxi Fabric design, and a way to contact him.
Taxi Fabric started with 5 designed taxis, and they recently successfully funded a kickstarter project, which means additional 25 taxis should be completed soon. Their plans are doing hundreds or thousands of taxis if they their dreams will come true. Artists who want to participate, can apply and enter a queue of designers waiting. Another option is to contribute 150 euro and get your design to be produced within a few days.
The most important aspect of the project, as far as I’m concerned, is said by Professor G. G. Waghmare, the dean of J. J. College of art in Mumbai:
“… The designed fabrics are showing, that design can change something that was once just practical, into something that can change perception, and make it meaningful and captivating.”
“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. It feels good to see the passengers getting entertained.”
– Irfan (Taxi Driver)
“Every day, without fail, somebody or the other asks me about the tiffins. Once a 55 year old lady said she’s never seen such beautiful dabbas before and that she’ll never forget my taxi”
– Ramashankar Yadav (Taxi Driver)