Taxis in Mumbai are not only the most convenient form of transport but have also become an iconic aspect of the city’s culture, and whilst a lot of care and attention is lavished on these taxis by their drivers, very little thought is given to the fabric used on the seats. The designs that cover taxi seats in Mumbai, and across India as a whole are often drab and forgettable, but with the design talent Mumbai has to offer, this shouldn’t be the case, and Wieden+Kennedy designer Sanket Avlani knows this all too well, which is why he created the Taxi Fabric project.
Sanket Avlani started connecting Mumbai designers with Mumbai taxi drivers, thereby turning seat covers into potential canvasses
Avlani realised that in India, design is unfortunately not widely recognised, especially as a legitimate profession and especially by older generations, to whom design just performs a function. With so few spaces for young people to show off their skills, it’s hard to change that perception, so Avlani put two and two together and started connecting designers with taxi drivers, thereby turning seat covers into potential canvasses from which young Indian designers can show off their design talents and storytelling skills, and connect with members of the public who previously perhaps didn’t understand that good design can tell stories and create emotions.
Taxi Fabric – A unique platform for designers in Mumbai
Each Taxi Fabric taxi is fitted with an identity label which tells anyone who rides in the taxi, the designer behind the Taxi Fabric, the story of the design and also how to get in contact with them for collaborations or commissions. So far, 5 taxis have been designed and fitted, but the team has turned to Kickstarter in order to raise funds to continue the project, which to this point has been entirely self-funded. The idea is to use the funds raised to engage 20 to 25 designers, take the taxis off the roads for a day to fit the designs, and document the process with film and photography. The goal is to have 25 more Taxi Fabric taxis doing the rounds in Mumbai by the end of the year. Savlani’s work has also earned him this month’s Spore Fund grant, which seeks W+K awarding a small grant to someone in the agency for a creative project unrelated to work.
Each taxi is fitted with an identity label which tells anyone who rides in the taxi the designer behind the Taxi Fabric, the story of the design and also how to get in contact with them
Every Taxi Fabric design has the opportunity to be seen by upwards of 4,000 people in the 4-5 months that it features in a Mumbai taxi, meaning that is Avlani reaches his target, 120,000+ people in Mumbai will have seen the work of these designers by Christmas. The Taxi drivers have commented that they believe their customers are not only engaging with them more, but most of them also ask them about their designs featured in their taxis. Some have even said they are getting more fares because their taxis stand out in a way the other taxis don't. 3 out of the 5 designers who have made Taxi Fabrics have been contacted by members of the public who have seen their designs and want to work with them further. It really is a project that benefits everyone involved, and if you want to do likewise, the Kickstarter remains open for another two weeks, and if you donate enough you can even design your very own Taxi Fabric!