The Taxi Fabric project started by Sanket Avlani is aimed at creating a space for designers to show off their ideas and talent through the medium of fabric used within the taxis of Mumbai. Towards the end of 2015, the Taxi Fabric team collaborated with TEDx Gateway (Mumbai) and came out with a series of Taxi Fabrics based off of the theme of Design for Social Good. The team contacted me to create designs for one of these taxis’. Using the Indian truck art as the visual theme, I created Keep Distance that promotes road safety in Mumbai while trying to inculcate a better driving culture in the city.
The drivers of both, the trucks and the yellow-black taxis, depend on their automobiles to earn a living for themselves and their families. Indian trucks are heavily decorated for two main reasons. One, their vehicles act as their pseudo home/family while they’re away from home transporting goods from one place to the other. Secondly, better-looking vehicles bring in better business. Apart from bringing in more business, automobile decoration also plays a significant role in carrying messages about the driver’s philosophy, good luck charms, messages about his home and family. Even messages for other drivers on the road to drive safe.
Similarly, a beautiful taxi is good for business, and therefore the taxi drivers decorate their taxis with vinyls and stickers to attract more customers. Parallelly, in the recent past, Mumbai taxi-drivers have faced a lot of public scrutiny for traffic-rule violations. As per the Global Status report on road safety 2013, approximately 2,31,000 people die due to road accidents every year in India. And one the top five cities that face the highest number of casualties is Mumbai.
Hence the ‘Keep Distance’ concept is the amalgamation of the two aspects that influence a taxi driver the most – their need to make their taxis look attractive and our responsibility as a society to remind them to drive safely and lawfully for the sake of their own selves, their families and others who share the road with them.
Inspired by the truck art of India, this design displays messages and couplets instructing the drivers to be safe on the road, illustrated with hand-painted type, motifs of birds, floral patterns, beautiful eyes etc. The aesthetic beauty of this taxi itself will act as a constant reminder to its driver to be careful.
All photographs by Aashim Tyagi. In collaboration with Shreedavy Babuji.