Abstract: A key challenge for nanotechnology is the programmable self-assembly of complex nanostructures. Our laboratory pioneered a versatile general solution: custom three-dimensional shapes, the size of small viruses, that can be conceived as stacked sheets woven from parallel DNA double helices. Current work is focused on achieving greater complexity via hierarchical self-assembly, and exploring site-specific chemical functionalization and programmable actuation. We also have been studying capture of lipid bilayers on the surface of DNA-origami nanostructures. One of our goals is DNA-origami-templated self-assembly of protocells with dynamic control over their shape and proximity to each other. Mastery over this technology will enable us to study physical mechanisms of growth, fusion, and division of membrane model systems, and to study how enzymatic cascades and replication of nucleic acids are affected by compartmentalization. These studies may provide insight into the minimal requirements for cellular organization in the origins of life.