Lipid membranes are examples of fluid deformable surfaces, which can be viewed as two-dimensional viscous fluids with bending elasticity. With this solid–fluid duality any shape change contributes to tangential flow and vice versa any tangential flow on a curved surface induces shape deformations. This tight coupling between shape and flow makes curvature a natural element of the governing equations. The modelling and numerical tools outlined in Torres-Sánchez et al. (J. Fluid Mech., vol. 872, 2019, pp. 218–271) open a new field of study by enabling the exploration of the role of curvature in this context.