Mumbai’s Taxis Makeover

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Photo by Taxi Fabric / The Guardian

India’s classic Ambassador taxis and juddery auto rickshaws are iconic sights in the cities of the subcontinent. In Mumbai, one project has been using them as canvases for Indian graphic designers, giving them the opportunity to design new interiors for the vehicles.

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Photo by Sandesh Parulkar / Taxi Fabric / The Guardian

Taxi Fabric (previously) was launched in April 2015 and has been working hard to brighten up some of the 55,000 taxis in India’s glamorous west coast city. The project is run by Sanket Avlani, Mahak Malik, Nathalie Gordon and Girish Narayandass who work out of London and Mumbai.

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Photo by Taxi Fabric / The Guardian

The project also hopes to raise the profile of design as a profession in India, where it is still not widely recognised.

According to the Taxi Fabric team: “Older generations don’t understand it, design to them just performs a function”.

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(Photo by Niqita Gupta / Taxi Fabric / The Guardian

So far Taxi Fabric has produced 26 new interiors, ranging from vibrant patterns to mock-classical art. Others feature Indian freedom fighters, childhood memories on Juhu Chowpatty beach and sign language motifs designed with deaf children in mind. The Taxi Fabric brief is simple: tell the story of Mumbai.

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Photo by Sandesh Parulkar / Taxi Fabric / The Guardian

The designers are encouraged to speak to the driver they are designing for, develop a relationship and work from there: “One can’t tell the story of the other if they don’t know one-another”, they say.

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Photo by Vinit Bhatt /Taxi Fabric / The Guardian

In the fitting process the fabric is applied to seats, door panels and ceilings.

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Photo by Taxi Fabric / The Guardian

Taxi Fabric raised over $14,500 through Kickstarter to help fund the project and has received hundreds of submissions since it launched.

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Photo by Taxi Fabric / The Guardian

It has just started working with 30 new designers to produce the next fleet of interiors, but it is always looking to see new portfolios from young Indian designers.

“The design is sort of a moving storybook with the cab driver, Nasimuddin Chacha as the protagonist”, says illustrator Gaurav Ogale.

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Photo by Taxi Fabric / The Guardian

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