Abstract Reproduction, i.e. the ability to produce new individuals from a parent organism, is a hallmark of living matter. Even the simplest forms of reproduction require cell division: attempts to create a designer cell therefore should include a synthetic cell division machinery. In this review, we will illustrate how nature solves this task, describing membrane remodelling processes in general and focusing on bacterial cell division in particular. We discuss recent progress made in their in vitro reconstitution, identify open challenges, and suggest how purely synthetic building blocks could provide an additional and attractive route to creating artificial cell division machineries.