Natural or synthetic soft materials are ubiquitous and many can be found in our everyday lives. But also new developments in medical technology, energy storage, and information technology exploit soft materials characterized by complex and hierarchical structures on the nanoscale. These structures can be exploited to create specific material properties. How these structures self-organize by "themselves", and how this process can be directed, is the challenge addressed by the Research Training Group GRK 2516. To this end, an interdisciplinary team from chemistry and physics combines theoretical modeling with experiment and synthesis, and educates the next generation of young researchers. Involved are the universities Mainz and Darmstadt as well as the Max-Planck-Institute for Polymer Research.