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Taxi Fabric: Transforming Cabs Into Art Masterpieces

TaxiFabricBy Sherah Ndjongo

In Mumbai, a heavily populated city of over 20 million people on India’s west coast, transportation is incredibly important. There are over 50,000 yellow-and-black cabs that can be spotted driving around the area, and out of these, a select number of taxis have had their interiors embellished by a group of creative thinkers and cab drivers. This collective goes by the name of Taxi Fabric, and they have been renovating dull taxis since 2013 with the help of a campaign on Kickstarter.

This talented ensemble of up-and-coming local designers was brought together two years ago by a graphic designer and illustrator named Sanket Avlani with the purpose of providing a public place for artists to show their work, a unique opportunity that often isn’t available for them. Taxi Fabric encourages artists and taxi drivers to collaborate with each other by creating original fabrics and eventually inserting them into cabs for no pay. The final reward is a visual narrative that many people can connect and relate to.

According to Taxi Fabric’s crowdfunding page, “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.” This statement proves that these original fabrics may be able to contribute to the community more than they were first expected to not only because they add a nice pop of color that brightens up taxi interiors or they allow the cars to be easily noticeable, but they also give passengers the chance to realize how something as simple as a beautiful design can ultimately change their travelling experience for the better.

Additionally, part of Taxi Fabric’s mission is to bring Pakistan and India closer together. Samya Arif, a Pakistani graphic designer involved in this special project, claimed in an interview that India and Pakistan were “separated at birth, siblings who grew up and forgot how much they love each other.” On August 14, Arif and her team composed of other Taxi Fabric members introduced their piece titled ‘Monad.’ Arif further explains her inspiration by saying, “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.” ‘Monad’ celebrates the similarities of the neighboring nations of India and Pakistan and promotes a peaceful interaction between the two despite their past history characterized by conflict.

Taxi Fabric hopes to give a makeover to at least twenty cabs before Christmas, and they are almost halfway there. Although the very idea of  taxi drivers customizing their cars with amazing designs for their own benefit isn’t new at all, Taxi Fabric differs in the fact that they want passengers to consider the artwork as a somewhat “extended part of the city landscape” that can evoke different thoughts and emotions. In the end, Taxi Fabric is a fantastic platform that allows artists to incorporate their personal ideas into a final piece and offers passengers insight into the stories and beliefs that the artists proudly stand by.

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About the Author: Sherah, 17, has been homeschooled for three years. “I am passionate about raising awareness about topics such as current events and culture and being able to effectively deliver a message that matters to me. I also enjoy researching and writing in hopes of educating, informing, and inspiring others.”

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