Stem cells are characterized by their dual ability to reproduce themselves (self-renew) and specialize (differentiate), yielding a plethora of daughter cells that maintain and regenerate tissues. In contrast to their embryonic counterparts, adult stem cells retain their unique functions only if they are in intimate contact with an instructive microenvironment, termed stem cell niche. In these niches, stem cells integrate a complex array of molecular signals that, in concert with induced cell-intrinsic regulatory networks, control their function and balance their numbers in response to physiologic demands. This progress report provides a perspective on how advanced materials technologies could be used (i) to engineer and systematically analyze specific aspects of functional stem cells niches in a controlled fashion in vitro and (ii) to target stem cell niches in vivo. Such “artificial niches” constitute potent tools for elucidating stem cell regulatory mechanisms with the capacity to directly impact the development of novel therapeutic strategies for tissue regeneration.