Stepping into The Cave, no rock is out of place, literally. Max is a beach dweller and collector of many things, amongst them being unique rocks hes found along BC’s rough, rugged, and beautiful coastline.
A place he calls home. Tucked away near the city’s downtown core is The Cave, his gallery and showroom space. Not too different from his home, there is a lot of stuff. It’s not minimal, its uniquely Maximale. It feels as though there’s something from every culture, and time period, yet it all somehow seems to flawlessly fit together. From North African masks, Italian lighting, to Danish furniture and Japanese ceramics. Max has an insatiable appetite for rarities with a innate sense and deep curiosity for unearthing them. 8 years and counting with Stussy on many sourcing trips all over may have helped spark the fire but the curiosity to learn more, and share stories through items continues to burn within.
Sitting on a Fritz Hansen lounge chair, one of many items available at The Cave, we chatted for a bit.
MAKS EIDELSEN: Having traveled lots with both your job and collecting things for Cave why Vancouver, what keeps you there?
MAX KING: I was born in BC. My position with Stussy for the last 8 years has kept me in Vancouver as my home base. It certainly has allowed for an appreciation of just how raw and genuine the mountains, islands, and beaches truly are. I have often asked myself why there isn’t a space that blurs the lines between contemporary design and found objects inside of the Vancouver market, so I thought – why not build one here.
What’s the connection between the cabin on the coast you spend time at and Cave?
Balance and connection. I can go up to the cabin and unplug the modern world from my peripheral and mind and plug in my natural world lenses. It allows me to not feel burned out by everything that comes with a cityscape; the imposed ideas and structures created by other people, and rather just exist. You need the noise to appreciate the silence and the silence to appreciate the noise.
How does is it different than your usual interior / objects shop?
I feel like I’m an interpreter or some sort of vessel transporting objects and ideas from far away lands and sharing their stories with people through The Cave. There is real magic in the world! I have a strong belief that objects made with genuine intent, with love and expression, have this frequency that exists through them. That energy can manifest itself into the design of a chair, or a candlestick or some sort of lighting fixture. They are trying to solve problems while stirring an emotional response to feeling. I’m not trying to be different from any other store selling used interior objects, I’m just trying to build a platform for people to have meaningful relationships with the things they live with in their home. Pieces that are made with quality materials and can last a lifetime. More thoughtful relationships. Many people care about the food they put in their bodies, or the clothes they wear, or the depth of a friendship and I think that same type of thoughtful, consciousness relates to furniture and objects for your home.
What are some sources you continue to draw inspiration from that can be in part attributed to your sensibility?
Sometimes that is difficult to articulate in words. Some things are only understood through a feeling. There is, without a doubt always a relationship to function, intelligence and beauty. How those values build narratives and how they relate to cultures throughout history. I would also say that having an insatiable taste for new experiences and discovering new places, new ideas is always a driving factor – a sort of meditation like sifting through the sand searching for something that just strikes you. Curiosity keeps the mind vulnerable and excited!
The best thing for me is to have no rules for myself. People like to preemptively think about their ‘brand,’ and become that. Your brand—or your personality, or whatever you want to call it, it’s weird that you would equate the two—it’s there already. You have one without trying to have one. So when you’re true to that, people respond to it.
Some people start projects and/or businesses to fill a void, beyond one in the marketplace but more so on a personal level as a way to express both themselves and their own wants. Do you think Cave in a sense is a manifestation of this?
Yeah definitely. It’s quite intimate sharing my perspective and curation of objects and how they relate to each other. It has never been about filling a business void as a means to attracting wealth. I’ve had the space for over almost 2 years, like an underground labyrinth for design that I only went too and spent time at. I’m certainly waving the flag of ‘this is what I like’ now. Over the past 5 years at least going to Japan, Europe and the States frequently I started going to Flea markets because that’s where I could source inspiration for my design job at Stussy and just started seeing amazing stuff – especially in ceramics as my mom was a ceramicist while I was growing up and the family cabin was always filled with ceramics from Japan. In Psychology there are theories about how we look for our mother or father in our partners and I would say I probably look for my cabin in my relationship with craft and identity.
Your average person may not know much if anything about many of the items and their designers. Meaning you may be doing a lot of educating, sharing knowledge, and selling a story as much as you are the item. Do you enjoy that aspect and was it part of the initial plan?
Absolutely. I love that part. I love storytelling, I’m captivated by that in everything. Figuring out how to articulate an object in words and images through The Cave motivates me to become well versed on the subject and history and I really enjoy that. To the point where sometimes I get so excited writing and romanticizing a Saki Pot or something that I think, “Fuck it, I can’t sell this. It’s too beautiful”. It’s funny because I realize that I am selling things but the money is just an exchange to own and use the story and the function of that thing.
What do you hope for someone to walk away with from visiting the Cave – beyond monetary purchases?
A thirst to experience and celebrate our planet and the many beautiful and thoughtful expressions in craft that come from varying cultures in different time periods. Also, maybe a breakdown of structure around what you THINK constitutes a space. You can have Japanese Rugs, Art Deco Candlesticks from France, Italian Lighting, Sculptures from Africa, and Glass from Sweden and none of it has to be new! You can have all these different materialities and it can feel really comfortable. Giving new life to pieces that have already lived one is so romantic to me.
This is a business as much as it is a huge passion of yours. How are you able to separate the two, and more specifically how do you choose which items will be up for sale at the Cave versus keeping as personal items for yourself?
There really is no separation, maybe thats unhealthy for business but thats the way I’m going to do this. There is a big psychological process of letting go and I think it’s really healthy and forces me to be more introspective. Many items in Cave I have lived with. Experienced them, how they respond to space, colour, light, material and energy. I would say I test drive most pieces in the showroom. I use my apartment and home as a Case Study of spatiality. There is no formula for deciding which pieces stay home or go inside Cave to be sold. Honestly, If someone came to my apartment and asked if they could buy something I would probably say yes. But having just received these Gaetano Pesce Broadway Chairs, which I thought I would sell through Cave, I realize that now I want to live with them for a while.
What do you enjoy more, the chase of the item or finally owning it? + (why)
Are we talking about Patriarchal romance or interior objects haha? It’s maybe more abstract than that because with found object sourcing, I have no idea what I am even looking for. It’s just some sort of blind faith that something finds me. In terms of specific pieces I’m looking for through the internet or auctions there will always be inherent pleasure in finding what you are looking for at a cheap price and finally receiving it. Perhaps there is a nice balance there of conscious and unconscious willpower. Finally owning the piece, whatever it is, can be the most fruitful part of the process because that is where you learn if that item is just beautiful or if it has a depth of intelligence that its photos cannot offer you.
What’s a goal for Cave a year from now?
Continue to work on sourcing interior objects of substance, beauty and history while also building my perspective into more of a Cave Firm. Consulting on spaces, sourcing for projects and providing direction for clients. More importantly I want to build Cave as the platform for artists, designers, and dreamers to showcase their craft. Gallery shows and promoting the talents in our own backyard. We have so many talented friends making incredible things and I want to help show the rest of the world what Vancouver has to offer in the same way the rest of the world has shown me incredible ideas to share with Vancouver.
The Cave is by appointment only
#403-2050 Scotia St in Vancouver BC
Shop online at Uncommon Cave