This Surprising Design Trend of 2024 Instantly Adds So Much Drama to Your Kitchen

published Jun 7, 2024
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One thing about me? I really love tile — as in, wandering tile shops just for fun, dreaming about new tile styles, and nearly always featuring some kind of tile in renovation projects. There’s so much beautiful tile out there, and when I went to the Coverings tile show in Atlanta recently, my whole world flipped upside down when I saw there’s a new kid on the block: Tile has gone 3D. 

Credit: Dana McMahan

Yep. The world of tile will never be the same because we’re no longer limited to flat tiles! Taking in every inch of the massive showroom floor at Coverings, I saw one thing over and over: crave-worthy, touchable, tactile tile. Fluted, raised, textured, scalloped, you name it — 3D tile is the moment. But where did it come from? And is this just the beginning?

I talked with Catherine Buehre, vice president of brand operations for Louisville Tile, who was an exhibitor at Coverings. And it’s not just me — that was the biggest trend she saw there, too. This isn’t just a cool thing that tile nerds are admiring at trade shows, though. “We’re here now,” she says. “It’s hard to ignore.” In their showrooms they’re getting “tons of requests for it,” she says, especially for small formats like kitchen backsplashes.

Credit: Dana McMahan

What’s the Deal with 3D Tiles?

Textured tile has always been a thing, Buehre notes, but in the past it’s been handmade, which, of course, limits how much people generally see of it. Now, technology exists to combine printing of patterns with three-dimensional surfaces, she says. So basically, the sky’s the limit. 

My response, the urge to reach out and touch it like I was doing at Coverings, is almost primeval. I couldn’t help myself! That makes sense, Buehre says, since we live in a world of screens where most of what we interact with is flat and smooth. Touching these beautiful tiles that are leaping off the wall “makes us really realize we’re in a real 3D world,” she says. Of course, it’s also incredibly visually interesting to look at in almost any space.

Credit: Dana McMahan

Designers are definitely recognizing this movement as well. We’re “seeing an evolution,” say interior designers Sasha White and Allie Allen, the team behind Shiny Shed Collective. “Homeowners today seek bespoke touches that endure without sacrificing excitement. We think people are craving texture and movement.” 

What’s so exciting about the tile trend is that it can take on so many forms. I recently came across this Instagram reel from Concrete Collaborative that shows how their fluted terrazzo tile (another huge tile trend of ’24) being made racked up more than a million views pretty much immediately — showing it’s not just the design world in love with the texture of it. 

Where to Get 3D Tiles for Your Home

Credit: Dana McMahan

Even mainstream tile makers are getting into it, Buehre says, and it’s clear: Everyone from Wayfair to Tilebar is rolling out 3D tile. But the showstopper for me (and apparently a lot of attendees!) at Coverings was a wall by Portobello America. As much art installation as tile display, its Impasto Collection was created by an artist who was essentially painting teardrops with a spatula, the company’s brand manager Veronica Gripp shared when I spoke with her after the show. This sculptural element inspired the collection, she says, which was also informed by the attention they pay to design trends at shows they visit around the world.  

Credit: Dana McMahan

The matte finish on the raised scalloped tiles was irresistible to everyone who passed by. We all had to touch and photograph them. The collection, which comes in 16 tonal shades and can be installed in a variety of ways, invites the designer or homeowner to let their imagination unfold, Gripp says. “It’s like an art class that they can do at home.” 

After a lifetime of flat tiles, I’m excited to see how these new possibilities unfold in kitchens around the country and the globe. I’ve already designed my new backsplash in my mind — in the sunset palette of those teardrop tiles — now all that’s left is to make it 3D reality. 

How do you feel about the 3D tile trend? Let us know in the comments below!