Taxis are a way of life for many in India and sometimes the most interesting conversations can take place in these taxis.
Taxi Fabric has captured that essence and combined it with art to create fabrics for taxis, thus creating an outlet for designers to channel their talent and enhance the everyday travel experience of thousands of locals.
This platform has made contemporary design available to everyone. The work of Taxi Fabric has been featured in Coldplay's music videos and recently as a backdrop for WeTransfer. The Drum spoke to Sanket Avlani, curator and founder at Taxi Fabric to find out how he plans to expand the project.
How do you plan to market Taxi Fabric globally?
Taxi Fabric initially started out while I was still working at Wieden + Kennedy London and was launched as a Kickstarter UK Project. It was funded mostly from the Kickstarter community is the United States and Europe.
Also, the Wieden+Kennedy Spore Fund was instrumental in achieving our Kickstarter Funding. The agency also helped push the project out there, around the world. So, as a project, it did start due to a lot of support that poured in from everywhere.
At Taxi Fabric, we have so far worked with brands and organisations after the Kickstarter Fund, to carry the project forward. In India, we are currently working with brands to also take the project to different cities. We have also in the past explored the opportunities for collaboration abroad.
Also, we are about to launch our product line very soon, so our community will very soon be able to buy textiles and products that will be made out of the latest Taxi Fabrics being launched. This will enable people around the world to own Taxi Fabrics they love.
Do you have any more sponsors lined up?
This project is still currently in the works. The project in currently operational only in Mumbai and Delhi. Later this year, we will hopefully be working with the Purpose Climate Lab in the North India region. We have worked with Purpose earlier on an Avoidable Blindness Campaign.
Are you collaborating with WeTransfer as well?
Not yet. So far we are being featured on their Full Screen Background Walls and we have received a lot of love and support from it! But I am aware that they support art internationally and we'd love to explore an opportunity to help take our Taxis everywhere.
Tell us about your International collaboration with Wieden and Kennedy.
This was one of the most important collaborations for Taxi Fabric, as the project kicked off mainly due to a lot of support from W+K. Designers from W+K London designed three taxis that would make the passengers feel a certain emotion.
It was challenging to think of how designers in London could create something relevant to the passengers in Mumbai. Through communications and questionnaires, the designers narrowed in on the emotions they'd wanted their passengers to have and designed the space of the Taxis and Rickshaws accordingly.
It proved through this that design, as a medium, can connect people around the world. Regardless of their cultural differences.
Do you think the creativity market in India has expanded?
It is ever expanding and also the taste of the Indian users and audience is evolving from the cliches. There is space for various kinds of creators and scope for various communities to exist and grow.
There are more companies now than ever before that are focused on specific offerings in different disciplines of design that are increasingly doing well - from shirt design companies, to printed textile products.
How well can such art and culture ideas impact India's growth?
We have no doubt in the fact that culture can be impacted through art and design. Even in a country like India where creative careers at large are still fighting for respect and value amongst careers in the field of science, technology and commerce.
Encouraging art and cultural projects will not only help in beautifying public spaces but they will also invoke a sense of community. With India's diversity, it will only help us understand each other's culture better, and be more understanding of each other's likes and dislikes. This will also lead to more conversation starters.
India needs a really strong movement through the arts to drive the country towards being a more open and a better community. Be more tolerant, be more open to critique and evolve together.
This will also largely encourage the artists and designers and have their works understood by a wide number of audiences. It will help them not to question their career choice against others, as it is the case in the majority of the country, even today.
What are the difficulties here in India?
The large corporations, brands and the government need to increasingly engage and get involved with the arts. Invest in them and open up the possibilities of these projects impacting the people of India.
Focus on improving the quality of artists and facilitate them to take their works outside of the country, to be able to improve their standing against those of the rest of the world. India has no dearth of potential to produce some of the best designers and artists in the world.
Tell us about your collaboration with Coldplay.
The Coldplay collaboration came out of nowhere. A production company explained how the director wanted our taxis to be a part of the video they were shooting and it was a matter of pride for us that he followed our works online.
A lot of people also had a problem with the video showing India in its most typically perceived image internationally, but many were happy that the Taxi Fabric project was a part of representing the contemporary Indian culture in the video.
For me, we were elated that it was considered as one of India's cultural projects that should be included in the video. It really put us out there on the global map of art projects as well.
A validation from such big artists was probably the best kind of validation for us.