The one real message that came across loud and clear is that designers want to be included early in the theater-making process. Too often they say (and we know this is true) they're brought it after a lot of decisions have already been made, or they aren't given enough time to develop their own ideas for a play. They wanted closer relationships with directors, and they even talked about developing relationships with playwrights. Yes!
I wanted to stand up and tell everyone about Boston Public Works Theater Company. Our playwrights all act as their own artistic directors, and each playwright hires their own designers. We put the artistic control in the hands of the playwright, not in the director's as it is in traditional theater, and we feel very strongly about the collaborative, not the dictatorial, nature of theater.
I bet you'll find that many forward-thinking playwrights are open to the idea of developing relationships with all types of theater artists, not just directors, as was done in the past. Not only would all the other theater artists bring their areas of expertise to the script during it's development, but I'd think that in today's theater, everyone is networking, everyone is on social media, and a playwright is just as likely to get a production through say, a set designer or a lighting designer, as they would from the traditional route of director or lit manager.