In Mumbai, Taxi Interiors Are Works of Art

One-of-a-kind cabins elevate the humblest of vehicles.

byJonathan Schultz| PUBLISHED Feb 10, 2016 10:00 PM
In Mumbai, Taxi Interiors Are Works of Art

For all the fetishizing of cities’ taxi fleets—witness the handwringing in New York over the death of Panther-platform Fords and the adoption of Nissan NV vans—little notice is given to a cab’s interior unless there’s a puddle of vomit in it. Mumbai, a teeming megalopolis of 21 million people and over 55,000 taxis, is reckoning with the government-mandated die-off of its emblematic Premier Padmini cabs; its citizens know a thing or two about car fetishes. But a successful Kickstarter campaign called Taxi Fabric is brightening the view for Mumbai’s cabbies, and their passengers, from the inside out.

The brainchild of London-based designer and native Mumbaikar Sanket Avlani, Taxi Fabric is fitting bespoke upholsteries inside Mumbai’s cabs. Each scheme is devised by a different young graphic designer from Mumbai—usually with input from the taxi’s operator—fabricated locally and then fitted inside the driver’s car. The fabrics serve the dual purpose of highlighting the work of underserved young artists and giving participating cabbies a comparative advantage in the scrum for fares.

The fabrics, which are fitted free of charge, may be done up in a Keith Haring-like swatch of geometrical patterns or a da Vinci-esque cathedral ceiling effect. We’re particularly fond of this Technicolor rickshaw setup; it presumably saves its occupants a trip to the psychotropics score spot. But if Taxi Fabric needs an ambassador—and we don’t mean the Hindustani kind—then this dude seems up for it.

Though they have started small, with just six taxis outfitted to date, Avlani and his Taxi Fabric compatriots are thinking big. Like, thousands big. Six down, 54,994 to go, kids.