What’s Behind the ‘Architectural Digest’ Decor at LA’s Ketamine Clinics?

Andrew Fiouzi
Andrew Fiouzi is an editor at dot.LA. He was previously a features writer at MEL Magazine where he covered masculinity, tech and true crime. His work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Long Reads and Vice, among other publications.
Antonio Ocana (left) sitting down with another person in the Pasithea clinic.
Courtesy of Pasithea

On the stretch of Sunset Boulevard, where the line between West Hollywood and Beverly Hills becomes faint, inside an eight-story, low-rise medical building, wrapped with a 60-foot poster of J.Lo’s pixel-perfect naked body, the ketamine clinic of the near future is preparing for the clinically depressed.

Pasithea is the latest ketamine center to grace Los Angeles. Inside their state-of-the-art, 1,235 square-foot facility, light oak wood walls, the likes of Scandinavian-themed architecture proliferating throughout the city, welcomes patients with the prospect of chic possibilities.


“Tall doors and tall windows are hardwired to your brain to give you bigger thinking,” says Antonio Ocana, the clinical director of Pasithea’s L.A. office.

The tiny window in the waiting room—a feature typical of the other offices in the Sunset Medical Tower, or so I’m told—has been scrapped in favor of a cascading frosted glass.

“It’s to bring in more natural light,” says Daniela Amador, the 20-something interior designer of the clinic. And the removal of sharp corners in the waiting room in favor of curves, she says, “was a representation of the cycle of life.”

In that sense, the Pasithea clinic feels less like a psychiatric office where they administer intravenous dissociative anesthetics and more like a desert sanctuary.

“There are two types of [ketamine] clinics or two types of vibes so to speak,” says Manuel Hoyer, Pasithea’s VP of Growth and Marketing. “One is a very hippy-esque, mom-and-pop shop that to a degree feels very aligned with the movement around psychedelics that’s not quite super credible for folks seeking out something medically backed. And on the other side of the spectrum you have more dentist-office-like spaces that are not giving away the sense that this is an innovative treatment.”

This distinction is important considering Pasithea is hardly the first ketamine clinic to open brick and mortar in L.A. In fact, it’s not even the fifteenth. Since 2014, when anesthesiologist Steven Mandel, who co-founded Ketamine Clinics Los Angeles, began using ketamine for off-label purposes to treat depression and other mental health disorders, Los Angeles has seen more than 1,000% increase in the number of clinics, based on the current number of ketamine clinics listed on Yelp. The current market size of this industry is estimated at $900 million. It helps too that in 2019, the FDA approved a version of ketamine called esketamine for mental health treatment. Under the brand name Spravato, the antidepressant is administered via nasal spray.

At Pasithea, the price per session for IV ketamine treatment is $700.

“Spravato will be offered as well starting next month,” says Hoyer. They recommend starting with six sessions of IV ketamine that are typically undergone anywhere between one to three weeks. Other ketamine clinics in Los Angeles have a similar protocol but range in price between $400 and $700 per infusion. Which is to say, Pasithea, if anything, is on the higher end of the spectrum.

But such is the price of healing inside a facility that looks less like a medical office and more like a cream-hued fantasy dream. Similar in sensibility, as Hoyer says, to “Santa Monica’s Proper Hotel,” with its sandy palette that alludes to a beach setting.

In recent years or, at least since 2020, much of the reporting on ketamine clinics has, inadvertently, drawn attention to the “vibe” of the facilities. Last year, when reporting on Field Trip, a ketamine clinic in Santa Monica that opened in September 2020, dot LA’s Keerthi Vedantam noted that, “the clinic is outfitted with mid-century furniture, fluffed-up cushions and shaggy rugs, almost like an Architectural Digest spread came to life.”

In her story from 2020 on the mainstreamification of ketamine therapy, the New Yorker’s Emily Witt wrote that the “decorative touches'' of Field Trip’s New York office, “are spa-like: white rugs, fiddle-leaf figs, electric candles inside glass-paned lanterns.” Adding that, “The aesthetic seems based on the assumption that, when a company hopes to take a formerly taboo practice mainstream, a West Elm interior can go a long way.”

Additionally, Field Trip has been described as, “not your average doctor’s office.” The waiting room, writes Sara Spruch-Feiner for Coveteur, “looks more like your chicest friend’s living room, with plenty of natural sunlight, a tactile moss wall, and aesthetically minded furniture.”

All of which is a far cry from the ketamine clinics of yore, which one Redditor described as being “in the back of a [P]olish pharmacy next to a kebab shop,” or “full of incense and pretty psychedelic.”

According to Ocana, to be eligible for ketamine therapy inside Pasithea’s lush, contemporary facility, a patient has to have already tried at least two different SSRIs. Which is important considering IV administered ketamine is not currently FDA approved for any psychiatric indication.

“There are a number of FDA-approved medications and evidence-based treatments for depression, including medications, TMS [transcranial magnetic stimulation], ECT [electroconvulsive therapy] and evidence based psychotherapy,” says Charles Nemeroff, the chair of Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Texas in Austin. “Where ketamine should fall in the treatment algorithm is unclear at this time. I see many patients with treatment-resistant depression who are immediately sent to a ketamine clinic before other well-established treatments have been tried.”

To that end, Nemeroff says, only a small minority of the clinics you are referring to adhere to these recommendations.

“Unfortunately, if you have the funds to pay for a treatment, you can easily receive it,” he adds.

Which is exactly the sort of clientele Pasithea hopes to attract with its palatial motif. According to VP of Operations Chirstian Pedrini, their primary demographic is “people between the age of 25 and 45, successful, either corporate or execs, probably tech and working in the entertainment business, basically people working in high stress environments.” Adding that for these types of people, “the thing you always need to take into account with these psychedelic treatments, is setting is really important.” Hence the floor-to-ceiling wall installation in the waiting room, backlit and ornamented with white vases and beach dried palm spears. Or the white leather phlebotomy chairs. Or the vases and wall art sprinkled throughout the facility, that look as though they’ve been picked out of a CB2 catalog.

Such is the inevitable result of ketamine going mainstream and backed by venture capital. In fact, these days, you don’t even have to go looking for ketamine therapy to find it. Per Rolling Stone’s recent report on the telemedicine company Peak, they’re pushing ketamine therapy via TikTok. Pasithea, at least, who does offer at-home ketamine therapy, does require that a medical professional administer the IV.

Ultimately, says Amador, her goal when designing the Pasithea clinic was to redefine what a doctor’s office could be — to demolish that feeling most people get when they arrive inside the typically aseptic waiting area replete with old gossip rags.

“We want the opposite,” she says. “We want the patient to feel at home.”

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🏰 Disney's Epic Investment Stands Out Amidst Gaming Industry Layoffs

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

🔦 Spotlight

In the midst of widespread gaming industry layoffs, a glimmer of positive news emerges as Disney announces a significant move: a $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games. 🏰💰🐭

Image Source: Disney

Disney's $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games, disclosed late Wednesday, signals a strategic alignment aimed at expanding the success of "Fortnite." The deal enhances Epic's growth prospects after financial setbacks, including layoffs, and strengthens the partnership between the two companies. With Disney gaining a larger equity stake in Epic, the collaboration will broaden the integration of beloved Disney franchises like Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and Avatar into the game, potentially boosting its appeal and longevity. This significant investment underscores Disney's commitment to interactive entertainment and signifies a shift towards games as a primary revenue stream, aligning with the growing trend of digital engagement among younger demographics. Moreover, the potential for crossover sales of physical Disney products within "Fortnite" and the exploration of new content distribution channels are just some of the opportunities arising from this partnership.

For LA tech, the Disney-Epic Games partnership represents a validation of the region's burgeoning tech and gaming ecosystem. The substantial investment in Epic, who maintains a large Los Angeles office with 1,000+ employees (according to LinkedIn), reflects confidence in the LA’s talent pool and innovation potential. Additionally, this partnership between two industry giants fosters an environment for further collaboration, investment, and growth within LA's tech sector. As Disney and Epic Games deepen their ties and explore new avenues for content integration and distribution, it not only elevates the prominence of LA as a tech hub but also stimulates economic growth and job creation in the region. This partnership highlights LA's unique position as a hub where technology and entertainment converge. With its ability to integrate diverse industries, LA is driving innovation and expansion in digital entertainment. 🚀💸🎮

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

  • ProducePay, a financing and marketplace platform for the fresh produce market, raised a $38M Series D led by Syngenta Group Ventures joined by Commonfund, Highgate Private Equity, G2 Venture Partners, Anterra Capital, Astanor Ventures, Endeavor8, Avenue Venture Opportunities, Avenue Sustainable Solutions, and Red Bear Angels. - learn more
  • Blush, an invite-only dating app that drives users to local businesses on dates, raised a $7M Seed Round from individuals like Naval Ravikant. - learn more
  • Mogul, a startup founded last year that provides an overview of an artist's royalty earnings and identifies areas where money is owed but has not yet been collected, raised a $1.9 million seed round from Wonder Ventures, United Talent Agency, AmplifyLA, and Creator Partners. - learn more
  • Avnos, a hybrid direct air capture startup, raised a $36M Series A led by NextEra Energy and joined by Safran Corporate Ventures, Shell Ventures, Envisioning Partners, and Rusheen Capital Management. - learn more
  • AI.fashion, startup whose mission is to help retailers enhance the online shopping experience by providing consumers with virtual try-ons and personalized fashion recommendations, raised a $3.6M Seed Round led by Neo. - learn more
  • Suma Wealth, startup that aims to demystify financial topics and provide culturally relevant content, virtual experiences, and resources to help Latino users navigate financial challenges and opportunities, raised a $2.2M Seed Round . Radicle Impact led, and was joined by Vamos Ventures, OVO fund and the American Heart Association Impact Fund. - learn more
  • 222, a startup that helps users discover their city and meet new people through unique social experiences, raised a $2.5M Seed Round. Investors included 1517 Fund, General Catalyst, Best Nights VC, Scrum Ventures, and Upfront Ventures. - learn more
  • LimaCharlie, a security operations cloud platform, raised a $10.2M Series A led by Sands Capital. - learn more
  • Polycam, an app that uses a smartphone’s sensors to capture 3D scans of objects, raised an $18M Series A co-led by Left Lane Capital and Adjacent, and joined by Adobe Ventures and individuals like Chad Hurley and Shaun Maguire. -learn more.

LA Venture Funds

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a startup building software to decarbonize logistics for logistics businesses and goods business through a vetted marketplace and optimization software. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $1.5M Pre Seed Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

Venture Waves, Climate Tech Wins, and Silicon Beach's Ongoing Evolution

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Anduril Seeks $1.5B in VC Funds

Defense company Anduril Industries Inc., based in Costa Mesa and founded by Palmer Luckey, is seeking to raise $1.5 billion in fresh funds to boost its valuation to $12.5 billion or more, according to sources quoted by The Information. This fundraising effort, if successful, would mark one of the largest venture capital rounds of the year.

Image Source: Anduril

Anduril recently secured a contract to develop and test small unmanned fighter jet prototypes under the Air Force’s Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) program, beating out major defense companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. Alongside General Atomics, Anduril will design, manufacture, and test these aircraft, with a final multibillion-dollar production decision expected in fiscal year 2026. This program aims to deliver at least 1,000 combat aircraft to fly in concert with manned platforms and is part of the Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance initiative. Central to Anduril’s success in this contract is the Fury autonomous air vehicle, acquired through the purchase of Blue Force Technologies. This victory underscores Anduril's rapid advancement in the defense sector, aligning with Luckey's vision of building faster and more cost-effective defense assets. - learn more

Los Angeles Ranks Number 1 in Emerging Climate Tech Hub

The 2024 Emerging Climate Tech Hubs Report by Revolution highlights Los Angeles as a burgeoning center for climate tech innovation. LA's growth in this sector is driven by its diverse talent pool, strong research institutions, and a culture of environmental consciousness. The city's unique mix of legacy industries, such as entertainment and aerospace, alongside emerging tech companies, positions it as a pivotal player in the climate tech landscape. This shift reflects a broader trend of decentralized climate tech funding across the U.S., reducing the historical dominance of California's traditional hubs. - learn more

Silicon Beach: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Assessing the overall health of the startup market is challenging, especially as venture capital funding has decreased by an average of 61% from 2021 to 2023 across the top VC markets in the US. Markets with robust ecosystems in AI, SaaS, Biotech, Healthtech, and Fintech appear to be weathering the downturn better than those focused on Consumer and Gaming industries, areas where Los Angeles traditionally excels.

Percent Change In VC Funding By Region

CB Insights

LA Times paints a rather bleak outlook on the Los Angeles tech scene noting venture capital funding in Greater Los Angeles plummeted 73% from 2021 to 2022. Silicon Beach, once a vibrant tech corridor, currently faces high vacancy rates and lacks late-stage financiers, especially in the AI sector. However, there are positive signs, including growth in aerospace startups and increased venture capital investment in early 2024, suggesting a potential rebound for LA's tech ecosystem.

While LA may not be exceeding expectations during this period, its tech ecosystem warrants a nuanced evaluation, given the broader market dynamics and its strong performance in specific sectors. Reach out to us with your thoughts.

🚀 SpaceX gears up for another stellar year, active raises, and more

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Happy Friday Los Angeles! You made it through the first week of 2024!

🔦 Spotlight

Elon Musk may be a divisive (albeit entertaining) figure, but the continued success of SpaceX is pivotal for the aerospace industry in Los Angeles and more broadly around the world.

Image Source: SpaceX webcast

What happened with SpaceX in 2023?

  • Elon Musk challenged Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg to a cage fight.
  • SpaceX launched 96 successful missions with its Falcon series of rockets, a 57% increase over its previous annual record.
  • SpaceX conducted two test flights of the largest and most powerful rocket ever built, Starship.
  • Roughly two-thirds of SpaceX's launches in 2023 were devoted to building out Starlink, the company's satellite-internet megaconstellation.
  • Isaacson’s Elon Musk biography was published in September including everything from Musk’s tumultuous relationship with his father to his work ethic and “demon mode”.

Moving forward what can we expect from SpaceX and its controversial founder? Continued innovation pushing the aerospace industry to new limits? Yes. More drama? Without a doubt.

Here is some of what is to come in 2024:

🤝 Venture Deals

Just Announced

Check back next week!

LA Exits

  • CG Oncology, an Irvine, CA-based developer of immunotherapies for bladder cancer, filed for a $100M IPO. It plans to list on the Nasdaq (CGON) with Morgan Stanley as left lead underwriter, and has raised around $317m in VC funding. - learn more
  • McNally Capital agreed to sell Advanced Micro Instruments, a Costa Mesa, CA-based maker of gas analyzers and sensing technologies, to Enpro (NYSE: NPO). - learn more

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a hard-tech startup that is developing a technology for decarbonizing natural gas, is raising a $1.5M Seed Round. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $250K Angel Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

📅 LA Tech Calendar

Sunday, January 7th

Wednesday, January 10th

  • Startup Cafe: Networking with a Kick - Entrepreneurs, Startups, and Tech Enthusiasts join together to meet and connect with like-minded people, industry professionals and investors, while enjoying a nice cup of coffee in Venice at The KINN. This week’s interactive discussion about AI’s evolution in entertainment will feature Dr. Sam Khoze and Rachel Joy Victor.
  • Venice Tech Happy Hour- Join Startup Coil and FoundrHaus Wednesday evening and enjoy the sunset from the rooftop, grab a bite overlooking Abbot Kinney, and mingle with other tech enthusiasts and entrepreneurs by the bar on the patio.

Have an awesome event coming up? Reach out to be featured on next week’s Newsletter!

📙 What We’re Reading

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