Araba Simpson joined Intuitive in 2017, building on more than two decades of brand and design experience in New York City. As design director, Araba has played a central role in developing Intuitive’s visual brand language, and most recently led the design of our employee resource group (ERG) visual identities. She is also a founding member of the BLACK at Intuitive ERG.
The story of my becoming a designer is an unlikely one. In college I was a biology and English major, and teaching myself how to make things on a Mac was just a hobby I enjoyed. At the time I hadn’t heard of Design as a career: I knew about fashion design and architecture, but not graphic design. And at the time I’d been exploring graduate programs in bioresearch. But I learned about my future career path by chance. At a grad school recruitment fair, one of the recruiters asked me what I did for fun and truly enjoyed. When she heard my response, she suggested I look into graphic design. That brief conversation changed my life.
My design journey
After college, I learned the basics of graphic design by working in small- to mid-size design studios in New York City. I eventually went to Parsons School of Design for a post-graduate design degree. While completing my work at Parsons, I got a job at the New York Times as an art director. And then I went to the School of Visual Arts, (SVA), where I earned a master’s in design.
At SVA, I had the great fortune of studying with world renowned designers—Paula Scher, Louise Fili, Stefan Sagmeister, Milton Glaser, and Michael Bierut, to name a few. After SVA, I worked with Milton Glaser at Milton’s design studio, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Opera, Johnson & Johnson, and then started my own design studio in Harlem. My clients included the Apollo Theater and the Abyssinian Baptist Church.
Ultimately, these experiences led me to Intuitive, where I could apply my brand, design, and biology background to meaningful work: creating materials that enable surgeons to provide life-enhancing care.
The perfect project
I led the effort to create the visual identities for ERGs. The process was an opportunity to apply all my design experiences to one project: As an immigrant, as someone who has continually fought to be in spaces where I knew I belonged, and with two decades of experience in graphic design, I really feel like this was the perfect assignment for me.
Our ERGs are an essential part of the company. In 2023 we had an opportunity to create a visual identity system for Intuitive’s ERG Program—a request that came from Katie Juran, Intuitive's VP of People Experience and Inclusion & Diversity.
From a design perspective, it was an exciting challenge: My team and I had to find a way to express the essence of each ERG while laddering up to Intuitive’s corporate brand. We started a detailed discovery process. We looked at what other companies had done, and we held listening sessions with all the ERGs. We really wanted to understand the communities and cultures the ERGs represent so that we could honor their spirit and missions through design. For example, the BLACK at Intuitive symbol represents community, solidarity, and support; the color palette is inspired by the Pan-African flag. For Pride at Intuitive, the colors are from the Progress Pride flag, the overall shape symbolizes hope, joy, and positivity, while the internal white space represents home, safety, and shelter.
There’s a story built into every one of the ERG marks, and those stories came from the ERGs themselves. The result is a set of visual identities that express the distinctive culture of each ERG while collectively helping to tell the I&D story at Intuitive.
It has been amazing to see the visual identities come to life across the company: You see them on people’s Zoom backgrounds and in the internal communications from each ERG. I am incredibly proud of the work, and I hope to continue to work on meaningful projects like this. I have been fortunate to build a phenomenal team in my tenure at Intuitive, and it’s been rewarding to see them grow and lead their own projects. We are all looking forward to making as much of an impact as possible.