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Viva Vernacular!

taxi cover
Brilliant to note that the cover of this month’s issue of Creative Review Magazine (UK) was created as a collabration between dynamic Mumbai design house Grandmother and local taxi-transformers Swami Art on a real taxi on Indian soil.

“For any design-aware visitor, Mumbai’s yellow and black taxis, which constitute a major part of the city’s horrendous traffic, are a wondrous sight. The majority are richly decorated with a litany of the driver’s favourite things: like a MySpace page on wheels. The sacred and profane rub along on rear windscreens, wings and bumpers as visual references to gods mingle with film titles, western brand logos and complex geometric patterns. At night, these vivid forms dazzle under street lights and car headlamps. For our April issue, we commissioned our own Mumbai taxi.”

High praise to CR for featuring documentation of the fascinating process of vehicle customisation and for giving credit where credit’s due – to these unsung heros of the megacity’s dense visual texture.

It all brings back fond memories of my own collaboration with Indian graphic-wallahs a few years back which was exhibited at the Glasgow School of Art in 2007. Hollywood has its Walk of Fame which displays its divas and heralds its heros on the pavements of Sunset Boulevard. The exhibition sought to playfully create a Bollywood version employing local portraiture and typographic styles called Bollywood Soul: A Vernacular Walk of Fame.

I collaborated with local legend Bobby Solanki and his brother Ramesh and son Chetan – a talented family team who work on the roadside in the Old City in Ahmedabad and are kept busy six days a week customising rickshaws with flamboyant style that attracts drivers from far reaches of the sprawling city.

You can check out images from my Bollywood Soul exhibition on Flickr or read more about Indian street graphics on my previous post.
Related articles:
Indocentric: Typocentric
Indo-French Street Skills

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Cerisse Palalagi June 24, 2009, 1:34 PM

    Absolutely love reading about your views on Indian street graphics! (currently at AUT undertaking postgrad. study for MVA…this will be useful for my annotations.) Mauri ora… Cerisse

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