In soft-matter systems, frequently the interactions between particulate units as mediated by their environment play a central role. We first focus on the interactions induced by particles that distort an elastic environment. Then we address effects of hydrodynamic interactions arising when the particles set into motion a surrounding viscous fluid. As a consequence of the interactions in an elastic environment, the overall properties of the whole material may be affected, which we here analyze for the case of magnetic gels. The effect of hydrodynamic interactions is studied for active suspensions of microswimmers, resulting in collective dynamic behavior of the self-propelled units. In the future, by combining the properties of these two separate scenarios, the behavior in viscoelastic environments and aspects of the actuation dynamics in complex soft-matter materials shall be investigated, while establishing links between different scales in such systems.