In the case of Hotel 1231 in Toruń, Poland, cooperation between the Kolektyf studio and a conscious investor led to great results, with everything finished down to the finest details. Graphics, signage, neons, and a revamped logo all perfectly fitting the vibe of a boutique hotel with an extraordinary past.

Name of the project: Hotel 1231
Location: Toruń, Poland
Year: 2020 – 2021
Investor: Restauro
Project: Kolektyf /Magdalena Szwajcowska, Marta Przeciszewska, Piotr Kalinowski, Bartosz Zieliński
Realizacja: Kolektyf
Photos: Leszek Godlewski

Hotel 1231 By Kolektyf Studio - Sheet5
@Leszek Godlewski

What happened in 1231? In that year a troop of knights of the Teutonic Order under the command of Master Hermann von Balk established a settlement on the bank of the Vistula river, which were the beginnings of today’s Toruń. The four-star boutique hotel has adopted this name for a reason – it is located in the heart of Toruń’s Old Town, on a spot that once belonged to the Teutonic castle. The older part is the restored 13th-century Castle Mill, and the new part – which was the focus of the project – is on the site of a former Teutonic infirmary built in the 14th century – a building where the monastic knights were treated for illnesses and wounds sustained in battle. Both parts of the building are connected by an underground passage – a long corridor, which is a great place to tell the history of Toruń in the form of graphics, as well as depicting themes relating to medicine and herbal medicine.

Hotel 1231 By Kolektyf Studio - Sheet7
@Leszek Godlewski

Not only gingerbread

Restauro company, hotel owner, specialises in the restoration of historical buildings. It’s main activity is the conservation, renovation, modernisation and adaptation of historic architecture. It also carries out research, and prepares conservation projects and expert opinions. So it is safe to say that they took a very conscious and careful approach to their own hotel project. It was clear from the beginning that Kolektyf’s project had to closely refer to the history of the venue and of Toruń itself. It should come as no surprise then that the design process itself began with a search of Toruń’s libraries and a study of medieval manuscripts and Gothic buildings built around the same time. Decorative architectural details such as window rosettes and decorative facades became an inspiration for the motifs woven into the graphics and signage system.

Hotel 1231 By Kolektyf Studio - Sheet9
@Leszek Godlewski

Walking with the Master

Most of the artwork is found in the underground passage connecting both parts of the hotel. There hotel guests can stand face to face with Master von Balk and read an excerpt from “The Chronicle of the Prussian Lands” by Nicolaus von Jeroschin, from which we learn about Balk’s arrival in the Chelmno land. There is also a painstakingly reproduced medieval coat of arms of Toruń and the city seal.

Two colours were used in the graphics: black and copper, which correspond well with both historic brick wall fragments and contemporary architectural concrete. Graphics reminiscent of medieval woodcuts depict medicinal plants, medics and herbalists, as well as the sick. They are interspersed with extracts from Latin writing describing the secrets of ancient medicine. It is worth mentioning here that the herbal theme is also repeated in hotel rooms. They are decorated with prints with herbal motifs taken from ancient books.

Hotel 1231 By Kolektyf Studio - Sheet11
@Leszek Godlewski

Copper and steel

Most of the signage at Hotel 1231 in Toruń is made of copper and painted steel. The 1231 pictograms and room numbering with nautical numbers (i.e. designed to visually match lowercase letters), specially designed for the hotel, were applied directly to the interior finishing materials.

Referring to medieval calligraphy with its decorative initials, the markings were also combined with patterns taken from the Gothic architectural details of Toruń’s monuments.

Additionally, Kolektyf’s studio scope of work includes neon designs for the hotel’s 1410 cinema and the Gin o`clock bar. At the entrance to the cinema, named after the Battle of Grunwald, is another fragment of an authentic document – the peace treaty of Toruń from 1411, ending the so-called great war between the Teutonic Order and Poland and Lithuania.

@Leszek Godlewski

The final task of Kolektyf was to revamp the hotel logo, aligning it with the overall visual identity approach. The logo is visible, among others, on an external steel totem indicating that the two neighbouring buildings are now parts of the same hotel.


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