We are now familiar with the idea that scientists can design life by modifying genes or even making genes from scratch. This is the new field of synthetic biology that underpins the potential to create so-called designer organisms. It can be thought of as a top down approach to the design of life in which a pre existing biological system is used whose behaviour is based upon the properties of DNA. What is much less well understood is how much of life is made from self-assembling systems that do not require genes to instruct them. These simple molecules are the building blocks of life and are present in the foodstuffs that we eat and which make up our bodies: water, fat, protein, sugars, vitamins & minerals.