Dream Team

Design firm Bells & Whistles gets set to export high-pitch style from San Diego to L.A.

Barbara Rourke and Jason St. John at the Smoking Goat in San Diego

Barbara Rourke and Jason St. John have already hit their stride in San Diego, where they’ve designed some of the city’s hottest spots, from retro-glam Starlite to the just-expanded Smoking Goat. Now the duo, known as Bells & Whistles, are moving their HQ to L.A., where they’ve already lined up an envy-inducing list of boldface clients, including a major recording studio and a high-end hair salon.

“It’s going to be an entirely new experience in L.A.,” says St. John. “There are a lot of interesting jobs here.” That’s putting it lightly. Bells & Whistles is making its L.A. debut with a redo of Red Bull Studio, where musicians such as Jamie Foxx and M.I.A. cut records alongside hopeful future phenoms. The energy drink empire tapped the two to transform the space (one of six Red Bull studios worldwide) into an ultra-hip hangout for visiting stars and their entourages. “It looked like the inside of a can of Red Bull,” says Rourke. “Think blue walls, a red stripe and everything else painted silver.”

The duo is also lending their Midas touch to a new Beverly Hills salon for jet-setting celebrity stylists Johnny Ramirez and Anh Tran. Rourke says they’ll “be using a hint of French and Spanish colonialism, an equestrian-esque element, nothing too modern.”

Meanwhile, the pair—who say they’ll still take on projects in San Diego and eventually hope to expand to San Francisco—continue to travel the globe searching for standout style. Rourke routinely visits boutique establishments all over Spain, France and Italy, while St. John recently took a culinary tour of Asia with two Iron Chefs. Not bad for the new kids on the block.

ROURKE & ST. JOHN'S HOTS
Happy hour at Figaro, brunch at Little Dom’s, Turiste Libre excursions to Tijuana, swimming with the leopard sharks in La Jolla Cove

ROURKE & ST. JOHN'S NOTS
Lack of bicycle-friendly lanes, lack of funding for arts programs in public schools, not enough public gardens