Our conversation with TPG Architecture’s Mavis Wiggins

Mavis Wiggins is an interior designer, creative director and team leader. For the past 30-plus years, she has developed a large and multi-faceted workplace portfolio with an emphasis in financial services. The Managing Executive and Studio Creative Director for TPG Architecture continues to draw upon all her experience to design successful spaces for her clients.

With a client list that includes projects for companies like IEX Group, Assured Guaranty and HBO, Wiggins continues to rack up an impressive list of industry accolades, including the 2020 “Interior Design Best of Year Award” for Best Interior Designer — Corporate Interiors,” among others.

We caught up to her to get her thoughts on the industry’s future, the opportunities for women in the growing construction landscape and the biggest item on her to-do list.

Give us a snapshot of the construction market today?
The construction market relies heavily on what our clients see for their future. In this post-pandemic reality, that means there is a lot that is still uncertain and unknown.

How did you get started in the industry?
I’ve always found myself drawn to the arts. In Northern California where I grew up, I was surrounded by a lot of interesting architecture and visual art. When I entered Pratt Institute, I became exposed to architecture and interior design, which took my understanding of shaping space to another level.

From there, the idea of being able to influence people’s surroundings and the communities within was very appealing. These experiences have led me to where I am today—a Managing Executive and Studio Creative Director at TPG Architecture. I’ve been with the firm for over 10 years now and specialize in corporate workplace design.

What are some of the biggest changes you have seen over the past few years?
Recently, I’ve noticed that there is not so much disparity/distinction between the market sectors as there used to be. Whether we’re talking about the workplace, hospitality, owner/developer, healthcare, etc., collective ideas—including community, collaboration and flexibility—remain at the forefront. If referring to the workplace in particular, there has been a greater emphasis, especially post-COVID, on creating agile and flexible spaces that can respond to any changes our clients may come across.

One of my ongoing goals is to bring greater awareness of our profession to a more diverse community. I want to continue to use my position in the industry to inspire and motivate those around me.

Name some of the opportunities available for women in the industry?
I think there’s certainly been an uptick in opportunities for women within the A&D industry. Both design and business associations are making it easier for women to come together to share knowledge, network and learn from each other. Collectively, we need to continue to use our voices to forecast our perspectives, and by doing so, positively influence the industry.

What challenges remain?
There are still challenges surrounding equity, equality and inclusion that aren’t just felt in this practice, but all fields of work. As leaders, it is our responsibility to continue these conversations with transparency and strength, and continue to pave the way for the next generation of female professionals.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?
One that really stuck with me is to be yourself. Never allow that to perish or become mired in self-doubt. Be confident in your talents and what you are contributing to the process—you bring value to the table.

What advice would you share with women entering the industry?
Never be afraid to seek advice and mentorship. Along with this, keep your connections alive—whether they are professors, mentors from internships or past colleagues. Also, be sure to learn your craft inside and out so that you can speak confidently in the face of adversity.

What lessons have you learned over the past year?
Being apart from my colleagues, friends and family for so long has shown me just how interconnected we all are as a species. We really do need each other, especially in difficult times such as these.

I’ve learned that it is so important to remain agile, flexible and informed to bring the best solutions to our clients in an uncertain world. Also, we should remain generous when it comes to sharing information; it will help us all.

What’s the biggest item on your to-do list?
One of my ongoing goals is to bring greater awareness of our profession to a more diverse community. I want to continue to use my position in the industry to inspire and motivate those around me.

The first thing you’re going to do when everything gets back to normal?
I plan on reuniting with my teams in the office with a big group hug. While we collaborate together virtually daily, there’s nothing like that face-to-face connection.

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