Fleeting Wonders: Mumbai's Works of Art on Wheels - Atlas Obscura
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Fleeting Wonders: Mumbai’s Works of Art on Wheels

"Ever since I’ve got the Taxi Fabric, all my friends want one and the passengers can’t stop asking me about it,” said driver Dashrath Sawant, pictured here with "City of Objects," designed by Sam Kulavoor. (Photo: Taxi Fabric)

“Ever since I’ve got the Taxi Fabric, all my friends want one and the passengers can’t stop asking me about it,” said driver Dashrath Sawant, pictured here with “City of Objects,” designed by Sam Kulavoor. (Photo: Taxi Fabric)

If you’re in Mumbai and you happen to hail the right taxi, get ready to be enveloped in a swirl of carefully crafted colors and images. These original seat covers are the brainchild of Taxi Fabric, a collaboration founded in April 2015. So far, Taxi Fabric has outfitted 12 Mumbai taxis, with the fabric designs extending all along the doors and ceilings, and wrapping the entire interior. It’s almost like sitting inside a mural.

Each design features the artist’s own style–some taking the form of block prints or floral patterns, others decorated with hardware supplies or Hindu goddesses. One taxi’s ceiling is reminiscent of the Sistine Chapel, though the men in the clouds are sporting mustaches and riding tigers. Another taxi seat is wrapped in fabric depicting a girl sitting in a window, while a brain floats peacefully below in a rowboat.

Artist Kunel Gaur, who designed this piece, "A Century of Revolt," was inspired by India's century-long struggle for freedom. (Photo: Taxi Fabric)

Artist Kunel Gaur, who designed this piece, ”A Century of Revolt,” was inspired by India’s century-long struggle for freedom. (Photo: Taxi Fabric)

The designs display a blend of contemporary and historical, edgy and traditional. “Taxi drivers themselves are like peacocks; each driver is trying to outshine his rivals with a more attractive taxi,” the Taxi Fabric founders explain on their Facebook page. They see the fabrics as a way for drivers to spread their feathers and a platform for young designers to share their art, tell stories, and spur conversation. The names of the design and its artist are stitched into each taxi.

Interested designers can submit a portfolio and design concept inspired by Mumbai for selection, or they can self-finance their composition. Taxi Fabric recently raised over $17,000 (11,000 pounds) on Kickstarter and is hoping to continue expanding to taxis all across the city.

With around 55,000 taxis in Mumbai, that means only 54,988 to go! 

"Monad," by Pakistani artist Samya Arif, explores the commonalities and differences between Indians and Pakistanis. (Photo: Taxi Fabric)“Monad,” by Pakistani artist Samya Arif, explores the commonalities and differences between Indians and Pakistanis. (Photo: Taxi Fabric)

Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to cara@atlasobscura.com.