Madrid artisan Javier S. Medina creates plant-based big game heads that are hot among the design and décor crowd.

By Andrew Ferren
July 31, 2015
Madrid Boutique
Credit: Courtesy Javier S. Medina

With all the controversy currently swirling over big game hunting, it’s nice to know there is an animal-friendly way to achieve that sought-after safari look without actually killing anything. In his old-world studio on Madrid’s tranquil yet trendy Calle Escorial, 21st-century artisan Javier S. Medina weaves plant fiber into a menagerie of charmingly expressive animal heads. The works are made of simple rush-like grasses known collectively in Spanish as “esparto,” traditionally used for making everything from baskets, furniture, rugs, and shoes to woven window shades.

With these humble materials and the age-old techniques Medina learned from family members in in his native Extremadura, he can fashion almost any animal head in a range of sizes. This being Spain, bulls are particularly popular, and the artist’s career got a boost when several heads were hung behind the bar at the popular tavern Celso y Manolo when it opened last year. Medina’s trophy heads and other fiber-enhanced objects, like mirrors and pendant lights, have since appeared on the cover of the Spanish Architectural Digest and many other Spanish and international style bibles.

Andrew Ferren is on the Spain beat for Travel + Leisure. He lives in Madrid.