Cellular life exhibits order and complexity, which typically increase over the course of evolution. Cell polarization is a well-studied example of an ordering process that breaks the internal symmetry of a cell by establishing a preferential axis. Like many cellular processes, polarization is driven by self-organization, meaning that the macroscopic pattern emerges as a consequence of microscopic molecular interactions at the biophysical level. However, the role of self-organization in the evolution of complex protein networks remains obscure. In this Review, we provide an overview of the evolution of polarization as a self-organizing process, focusing on the model species Saccharomyces cerevisiae and its fungal relatives. Moreover, we use this model system to discuss how self-organization might relate to evolutionary change, offering a shift in perspective on evolution at the microscopic scale.